Elgar Parishad case: Sudha Bharadwaj granted bail, others' pleas rejected
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted default bail to lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj in the 2018 Elgar Parishad case. The court, however, rejected the default bail pleas of eight co-accused in the case: Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, and Varavara Rao. Here are more details on this.
Why does it matter?
- The Bombay HC's order implies Bharadwaj, who has been in prison since 2018, will soon be able to walk free.
- She will be produced before a special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on December 8 meaning she will be in jail for at least another week.
- The NIA court will list the bail conditions and finalize her release.
Bombay HC Division Bench passes order
A Bombay HC Division Bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar said Bharadwaj is entitled to default bail. The bench had concluded the hearing and reserved its verdict in her default bail plea on August 4. Thereafter, the bench heard the plea by the eight other accused and reserved its orders on September 1.
What arguments were made in the court?
Bharadwaj's lawyer Yug Chaudhry said Additional Sessions Judge KD Vadane of a trial court in Pune was not designated to hear matters about offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Judge Vadane had never been designated a special judge, Chaudhry argued. Hence, the Sessions Judge had no judicial competence to extend Bharadwaj's period of detention under the UAPA.
What is a default bail?
Once the maximum period of time provided for investigation in a case is over and no chargesheet is filed, the accused becomes entitled to be released on bail. That is known as default bail.
Why were the other accused denied bail?
The court noted the other accused never claimed to have filed an application for default bail after the expiry of the initial period of 90 days. Hence, they were not entitled to bail, the court said. "Where the accused fails to apply for default bail when the right accrues to him and subsequently a chargesheet is filed before the court, the right...would get extinguished."
What is the Elgar Parishad case?
The case pertains to the violence that took place on January 1, 2018, in Pune at an event organized to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon. One person had died and several others were injured in the violence. Police said the violence was at least partly instigated by alleged inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad program on December 31, 2017.