On Tuesday, the Bombay High Court ordered the National Investigation Agency to present an affidavit in response to activist Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail petition in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist connections case by July 3.
Bharadwaj was apprehended on August 28, 2018, and has been incarcerated since then. Under the terms of the severe Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, a complaint was filed against her and a few other activists.
Bharadwaj had requested default bail, claiming that the trial judge was not authorised to take cognizance of the charge sheet submitted against her in 2019, since the judge had not been appointed as a special court under the NIA Act to hear UAPA cases at the time.
On Tuesday, a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar ordered NIA’s lawyer, Sandesh Patil, to file an affidavit in answer to the plea and adjourned the case till July 3.
Bharadwaj used papers obtained from the high court under the Right to Information Act to show that the Pune court of Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane was not authorised to consider the 1,800-page additional charge sheet submitted by the Pune police in February 2019.
Because this judge was not a special NIA judge at the time, he or she could not have taken cognizance of the charge sheet. Bharadwaj’s lawyer, Yug Chaudhry, also claimed that an earlier decision issued by the same judge in November 2018 allowing the police time to file the charge sheet should be overturned.
The case stems from alleged provocative statements made during the ”Elgar Parishad” conference in Shaniwarwada, Pune, on December 31, 2017, which allegedly sparked unrest the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war monument on the city’s outskirts, according to the police.
The conference was allegedly backed by Maoists, according to Pune police. The matter was eventually handed over to the National Investigation Agency (NIA).