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Elgaar Parishad case: Sudha Bharadwaj moves Bombay HC seeking default bail

Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is currently lodged in Byculla women’s prison in Mumbai in the Elgaar Parishad case, recently approached the Bombay High Court seeking default bail in view of alleged delay in filing chargesheet against her within the stipulated time.

However, as National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is currently probing the case, sought to respond to the plea, Bharadwaj’s counsel sought the plea to be heard before a division bench instead of a single-judge bench. The HC has allowed the same.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal on Friday was hearing the plea by Bharadwaj, argued through advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, seeking bail on the ground that the chargesheet in the case against her was not filed within the statutory period of 90 day.

The chargesheet against Bharadwaj was filed by the Pune police in February 2019, and the investigation was taken over by the NIA in January 2020.

The plea claimed that since the chargesheet was filed beyond the period of 90 days, Bharadwaj was entitled for default bail as per Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC).

Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry contended that since the case is currently being investigated by the NIA, the matter has to be heard by a Division Bench composed of two judges according to the NIA Act.

He added that even though the order of the trial court, which is challenged by Bharadwaj, was passed before NIA took over the probe, the matter be heard by the Division Bench since the case is currently probed by NIA.

Chaudhry argued that Pune Sessions Court was not competent to grant extension of time to Pune Police to file the chargesheet against Bharadwaj.

The court, in view of the past Supreme Court judgment, directed its registry to place Bharadwaj’s plea to be placed before a division bench for the further hearing.

Last month, a vacation bench of HC, which was hearing a medical bail filed by Maaysha Singh, the daughter of Bharadwaj, had said that prisoners are entitled to access their own medical records and that prisoners should be allowed to make a phone call to a family member after a hospital visit.

The High Court had disposed of the medical bail plea after Singh’s lawyer submitted that Bharadwaj had received treatment.

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