Bhima Koregaon: Special NIA Court in Mumbai rejects interim bail plea of Sudha Bhardwaj
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Bhima Koregaon: Special NIA Court in Mumbai rejects interim bail plea of Sudha Bhardwaj

Shruti Mahajan

The Special NIA Court in Mumbai on Friday rejected interim bail plea filed by tribal rights activist and trade unionist Sudha Bhardwaj, who is one of the several accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Bhardwaj, who is currently lodged in the Byculla Women's prison in Mumbai, had moved an application for interim bail citing threat of spread of COVID-19 given that an inmate in the jail has tested positive for novel coronavirus.

Seeking interim bail on medical grounds, Bhardwaj's plea stated that she has existing medical conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure which makes her more prone and vulnerable to contracting the virus and, therefore, she sought interim bail.

The bail plea was opposed by Special Public Prosecutor, Prakash Shetty, for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on the grounds that Maharashtra State's High Powered Committee that considered the class of prisoners to be released on bail/parole amid COVID-19 pandemic do not bring persons accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) under its ambit for consideration for release.

Further, the NIA argued that Bhardwaj's medical reports indicated that she is in stable and normal condition.

After hearing the arguments, Special Judge DE Kothalikar rejected this interim bail plea.

Bhardwaj is one of the several activists, academicians, and lawyers whose houses were raided by the Pune Police in 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

For close to two years now, Bhardwaj has remained incarcerated on charges under the UAPA and the investigation in the case stands transferred from Pune Police to the NIA.

Recently, the Delhi High Court had pulled up NIA over its "unseemly haste" in transferring Gautam Navlakha from Delhi to Mumbai in relation to the same case that Bhardwaj is accused in.

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