Anti-Terror Agency Opposes Activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s Bail

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Sudha Bharadwaj was the first of 18 workers and academics arrested in the case.

New Delhi:

The National Investigation Agency (NIA) has challenged the bail of lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj in the Koregaon-Bhima case in the Supreme Court.

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Sudha Bharadwaj, who has been in jail since 2018, was granted default bail by the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, which said a court that had extended the probe against her and extended her detention had no jurisdiction to do so.

A bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar, which passed the order, directed a special NIA court in Mumbai to take up the case on December 8 and decide on his bail conditions and release date.

The Koregaon-Bhima case relates to an allegedly inflammatory speech delivered at an Elgar Parishad Conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police claimed was followed by violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima War Memorial on the outskirts of Pune.

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Pune police claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists. The case was handed over to NIA after investigation.

Among the 16 activists and academics arrested in the case, Sudha Bharadwaj was the first to be granted bail by default. Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently on medical bail. Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest, died at a private hospital in the city on July 5 this year while awaiting medical bail.

The rest are in custody pending trial.

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Sudha Bharadwaj, who has been associated with the Chhattisgarh trade union movement for over 25 years, is the general secretary of the Chhattisgarh unit of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and a member of Women Against Sexual Violence and State Oppression (WSS).

An alumnus of the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kanpur and a professor at the National Law University in Delhi, the activist renounced her US citizenship and decided to practice law and practice in Bilaspur for the aborigines of Chhattisgarh.

Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested on August 28, 2018 in the case. He was then placed under house arrest and taken into custody on October 27, 2018.

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He has been in custody ever since, except for two days in August 2019 when he was granted bail to attend his father’s funeral.

The case relates to an allegedly inflammatory speech delivered at the Elgar Parishad Conclave in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police claimed was followed by violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima War Memorial on the outskirts of the city.

Pune police claimed that the conclave was backed by Maoists. The case was handed over to NIA after investigation.

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With input from PTI

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