Lawyer-Activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is accused in the Bhima Koregaon- Elgar Parishad case, moves Bombay HC, pleading default bail, stating that the trial judge is not authorized to take cognizance of the 2019 charge sheet against her.
Her plea comes in the ambit of Sections 439 and 167 (2) of the Criminal Procedure Code, wherein, it cites that, Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane in Pune was not authorized to take cognizance of the 1800 page supplementary charge sheet filed by the Pune police in February 2019.
Bharadwaj filed the plea through Advocate Yug Chaudhry and Payoshi Roy. According to her plea, the court didn’t categorize as a special court under the NIA Act, which has special and exclusive jurisdiction to try scheduled offences under UAPA, and therefore, not eligible to extend the time for filing of the charge sheet.
A single-judge bench consisting of Justice Sarang Kotwal heard the plea on Friday (June 11, 2021). The bench directed the department to forward the petition before a division bench. The court observed that according to the Supreme Court’s order in the State of Andhra Pradesh, via IG National Investigation Bureau vs. Md Hussain @ Saleem applications for bail where the NIA Act applies, would duly come under the jurisdiction of a division bench.
Bharadwaj was arrested on the 28th of August, 2018 for the involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon/ Elgar Parishad case. This case, at first was investigated by the Pune police, but later it was handed to the NIA, dating last year.
Bharadwaj’s basis to seek bail is the Pune police’s charge sheet. She claims that some documents were discovered from her co-accused which specify her activities and prove that she is an ‘active member’ of banned organization CPI(M).
One such document is of a special women’s meeting held on January 2nd 2018, of which Bhardwaj was allegedly a part. There were five other such documents which comprised of records with meetings with the Indian Association of People’s Lawyers of which, Bharadwaj is a Vice President. The Bombay HC rejected her bail application on the aforementioned basis.
Bhima Koregaon Case
This battle was between 25,000 mighty Peshwa army and 500 British soldiers, which also included people from the Mahar (Dalit) community. The names of those sacrificed are inscribed in the memorial by the British army.
Hundreds of people who visited the war memorial were attacked on the 1st of January, 2018. They were mostly Dalit and a person died in this stone-pelting.
An FIR was registered regarding the same, but there has no progress ever since.
It was alleged that this was the consequence of inflammatory speeches held at the Elgaar Parishad conference on 31st of December, 2017.
The NIA took over the investigation in 2020. In this case, most of the accused were neither named in the FIR over the violence nor present during the 2017 event.