MUMBAI Updated: Jul 10, 2020 20:35 IST

K A Y Dodhiya

The Bombay high court on Friday directed the state and prison authorities to submit details about the conditions of inmates in Byculla women’s jail after Dr Sudha Bharadwaj, former professor and an accused in the Elgar Parishad case who is currently kept in the women’s jail approached the court challenging the refusal of interim bail by a special NIA court in May.

On Friday, while hearing the application of Bharadwaj, the bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Madhav Jamdar was informed by senior advocate Yug Choudhary that the conditions in Byculla women’s prison were deplorable due to congestion and as Bharadwaj suffered from co-morbidities there was a threat to her well-being and hence should be granted interim bail.

In an earlier hearing on June 30, Choudhary had submitted that in light of Supreme Court directions to decongest jails to avoid the spread of the coronavirus among inmates and in light of her comorbid condition Bharadwaj had sought interim bail before the special NIA court but it was refused on May 29, hence she approached the HC.

The NIA had however submitted that Bharadwaj was using her co-morbid condition and the SC directions as an excuse to get bail as the UAP Act under which she is booked did not have provision for bail. The NIA had assured the court that Bharadwaj was getting proper medical facilities in the jail and was also provided with the medication she had been taking since 20 years and hence her application should be rejected.

On Friday, after the state reiterated the submissions of NIA in the previous hearing, the court sought to know from the authorities the conditions of inmates in the jail. The court directed the prison authorities and state to submit an affidavit regarding enlisting the condition of inmates in Byculla women’s prison and posted the matter for hearing on July 17.

Bharadwaj along with five others had been arrested by Pune police in August 2018 on her alleged role in the Elgar Parishad event after which violence broke out during Bhima Koregaon programme and resulted in the death of one and left several persons injured. Pune police alleged that Bharadwaj along with other activists which included Arun Ferreira, Varavara Rao, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Shoma Sen, Gautam Navlakha, Dr Anand Teltumbde and Mahesh Raut were working of the banned CPI (Maoist) group and had conspired and instigated the people which led to the violence at Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018.

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