Arrested activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj’s family has said its faith in the Supreme Court’s ‘humanitarian rationale’ has been ‘jolted’ after the apex court on Thursday refused to entertain her bail plea on medical grounds in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case.
Bharadwaj’s Special Leave Petition for medical bail in the Supreme Court on Thursday did not yield any relief for her even though she continues to suffer type two Diabetes Mellitus, and Ischemic Heart Disease (developed whilst in prison), which places her in the ‘high risk’ category of persons for Covid-19, the family said.
“By denying medical bail to 58-year-old Sudha Bharadwaj, the Hon’ble Court is risking the possibility of COVID-19, given Bharadwaj’s serious comorbidities,” said a statement released by Bharadwaj’s daughter Maaysha and other family members.
Further detailing the ailments the activist-lawyer is suffering from, the statement said she developed Osteo-arthritis and Tinea Corporis, a fungal infection, in prison. “Due to Osteo-arthritis, she is in acute and excruciating pain that has spread from her hands to her shoulders and her hip preventing her from carrying out her daily tasks and movement,” it said.
Earlier, an interim medical bail plea for Bharadwaj was rejected by the Bombay High Court.
Advocate Vrinda Grover, appearing for the petitioner on Thursday, challenged the Bombay High Court order of 28th August saying it overlooked the said ailments of the activist. Grover submitted that Bharadwaj has been in jail for over two years and charges have not been framed in the case. Additionally, nothing has been recovered from the petitioner and no incriminating material found, she said.
The Special Leave Petition reminded the apex court of its own order of March 23 for decongestion of prisons to prevent virus outbreak there. The petition said this March order of the SC for decongesting prisons was ignored by the Special NIA Judge Mumbai in its order of May 29 which said that those accused under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), such as Bharadwaj, were not eligible for medical bail.
“Sudha Bharadwaj has dedicated her life fighting for the rights of minorities, Adivasis as well as trade union workers as enshrined in the Constitution of India, and is counted one among the six RBGs across the world, an honour given after the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist Jurist who served on the American Supreme Court,” the activist’s family said, demanding that concerned authorities conduct a thorough and complete check-up to ensure her wellbeing.
They also appealed to the prison authorities to decongest the jails, test all the inmates and take appropriate measures to avoid a coronavirus outbreak in the jail.
Bharadwaj has been lodged in the Byculla women's prison in Mumbai since September 2018 following her arrest in the Elgar Parishad case along with other rights advocates and activists under the controversial anti-terror law UAPA. The case is being probed by the National Investigation Agency(NIA).