Mumbai: Lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, arrested in 2018 in the Koregaon-Bhima case, is likely to be released this evening after spending three years in jail.
This comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a petition by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), challenging the Bombay High Court order on her bail. “We see no reason to interfere with the high court order. Plea dismissed,” a bench of Justices UU Lalit, SR Bhat, and Bela M Trivedi said, clearing her release.
As part of her bail conditions, a special NIA court said today, the 60-year-old activist will have to submit her passport and stay in Mumbai.
She can’t interact with the media on the case, the special court said, adding that she could be released on a provisional cash bail of ₹ 50,000.
The Bombay High Court on December 1 granted default bail to Ms Bharadwaj but the NIA court was asked to set the bail conditions.
She is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail.
Arrested on August 28, 2018, she was later placed under house arrest. She was then taken into custody on October 27, 2018.
The case was filed over alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017.
The speeches, police had claimed, triggered violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts the next day. The conclave, it was alleged, was backed by Maoists. Anti-terror agency NIA had later taken over the case from the Pune Police.
Her bail was also opposed by the Maharashtra government in July in the Bombay High Court.
Associated with the trade union movement in Chhattisgarh for more than 25 years, Sudha Bharadwaj 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 Repression (WSS).
Today, the anti-terror agency opposed her petition to go to Chhattisgarh.
Priest-activist Stan Swamy, 84, also arrested under the anti-terror law UAPA in the Elgar Parishad case last year, died in July in the midst of the fight for bail on health grounds.
Poet Varavara Rao is the only activist who has got bail on health grounds in the case.