Law professor Sudha Bharadwaj’s counsel Yug Chaudhary, while seeking her bail in the Elgar Parishad case on Friday, said even in British India courts rejected cases with unsigned and unverified letters as evidence. In the case of Bharadwaj, who has been arrested for alleged Maoist links, he reiterated the police were relying merely on unsigned copies of typed, unverified letters found on the computers of her co-accused, which cannot be admissible as evidence against her.
Chaudhary argued the allegations by the police against the arrested activists was they had formed an “all India antifascist front” to plot against the government. Chaudhary wondered how “being anti-fascist has become enough to incriminate her.”
He said Bharadwaj neither has any criminal antecedents nor was she ever arrested in the past, but the prosecution has claimed the accused had plotted a “move to topple the government’’ and “assassinate important political persons using a hawala route.”
He said while dealing with bail pleas, the court must examine if the accused clears three tests — absconding, tampering with evidence or being a flight risk. He argued the police, in their opposition to her bail, have not termed her a flight risk nor said she may tamper with evidence or witnesses. She has a daughter and given her “deep roots in society”, the question of flight risk doesn’t arise, he said. Besides, the police have taken away all electronic devices from her possession, so tampering is not possible, he said. She has cooperated with the probe too, he added.
Mr. Chaudhry said the affidavit filed earlier by the additional public prosecutor Aruna Pai, says “all accused members (Arun Ferreria, Rona Wilson, Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Mahesh Raut) are active members of banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist) likely to strike terror.” Explaining the matter highlighted in the affidavit, Mr. Chaudhry said, “all the accused are anti-fascists.”
He read out another letter, relied upon by the Pune Police to charge Ms. Bharadwaj with the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and asked, “what role is attributed to me? How do they incriminate me?”
He said Ms .Bharadwaj is a Professor at National Law University, Delhi, has a young daughter and has been in jail for a year.
Mr. Chaudhry will continue his arguments on September 16 when he will also address the lower court’s order rejecting Ms. Bharadwaj’s bail.
“This court should not countenance the deprivation of the petitioner’s liberty in a case so utterly bereft of evidence…,” Chaudhary said.
He was making submissions before a bench of justice Sarang Kotwal.