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Home Top Stories Elgar Parishad case accused Sudha Bharadwaj moves Bombay HC for default bail

Elgar Parishad case accused Sudha Bharadwaj moves Bombay HC for default bail

Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is currently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s Jail after her arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case of 2018, has moved the Bombay High Court seeking bail on the ground that the chargesheet in the case against her was not filed within the statutory period of 90 days.

File photo of Bombay High Court

Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is currently lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s Jail after her arrest in the Bhima Koregaon violence case of 2018, has moved the Bombay High Court seeking bail on the ground that the chargesheet in the case against her was not filed within the statutory period of 90 days. Bharadwaj has filed for ‘default bail’. Gautam Navlakha, another accused in the case, had also sought similar bail, however, it was rejected by the high court.

The allegation against Bharadwaj was that certain documents recovered in the case indicate that she and other accused were ‘active member’ of the banned organisation CPI (Maoist). In her bail plea under Section 167(2) of the Criminal procedure Code (CrPC), Bharadwaj contended that the investigation agency had failed to file its chargesheet within the time limit of 90 days as prescribed under law.

The chargesheet against Bharadwaj was filed by the Pune Police, though the investigation was later taken over by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The trial in the case is yet to begin.

In the plea, Bharadwaj claimed that since the chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police after a period of 90 days, she is entitled for default bail. The bail application was listed before the single judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal of Bombay High Court on Friday. When the matter came up for hearing, advocate Yug Chaudhry, appearing for Bharadwaj, told the court that legal propriety dictates that the bail application be heard by a division bench of the high court.

Chaudhry’s contention was that even though the case was being investigated by the local police earlier, but since the case is currently being investigated by NIA, the plea will have to be heard by a division bench as per the scheme provided under NIA Act. Agreeing to this, Justice Kotwal observed that the scheme of the NIA Act, more specifically Section 21 (2) provides that appeals in cases pertaining to the NIA investigation be heard by a bench of two judges of the high court.

Justice Kotwal then directed the registry to place the plea before a division bench of the high court.

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