Three years after she was arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case under the provisions of UAPA, activist Sudha Bharadwaj will be released from jail on a cash bond of Rs 50,000 with one or more sureties, a special NIA court ruled on Wednesday. The court allowed Bharadwaj to submit the cash surety, which would enable her to walk out of the jail, either on Wednesday or Thursday. She is currently lodged at the Byculla prison in Mumbai. Other conditions laid down by the special court for her release include that she shall reside in the jurisdiction of the court and cannot leave Mumbai without its permission.
The Supreme Court rejected a petition by the National Investigation Agency, challenging a Bombay High Court order on her bail.
The high court on December 1 had said in its order that Bharadwaj, accused of being part of a conspiracy to overthrow the Union government, was entitled to bail and its denial would be in breach of her fundamental right to life and personal liberty guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution.
The high court had directed that Bharadwaj, lodged in the Byculla women’s prison, be produced before the Mumbai special NIA court on December 8, and conditions of her bail and date of release be decided. Bharadwaj is the first among 16 activists and academicians arrested in the case to have been granted default bail.
Poet-activist Varavara Rao is currently out on medical bail. Jesuit priest Stan Swamy died in a private hospital here on July 5 this year while waiting for medical bail.
The others are all in custody as undertrials. The high court had rejected the default bail plea filed by eight other co-accused in the case – Sudhir Dhawale, Varavara Rao, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira. The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the Elgar Parishad conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case was later transferred to the NIA.