Mumbai, August 28: The Bombay High Court on Friday dismissed the plea for interim bail on medical grounds by lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj — an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case being probed by the NIA — amid the coronavirus pandemic, stating that the government of Maharashtra would continue to provide her medical aid in prison.

Bharadwaj, 58, has been lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s Jail since 2018. She had filed an appeal before the High Court after the Special NIA Court’s rejected her bail plea saying that she suffered from co-morbidities, such as diabetes and hypertension, which put her at higher risk of contracting coronavirus while at the prison where an inmate had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier.

NIA counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, argued against giving bail to Bharadwaj saying that if her condition required hospital care, the state would provide for it, NDTV reported. He gave the example of 81-year-old co-accused, Varavara Rao, who was admitted to a state-run facility and then a shifted to the private hospital – on intervention of the National Human Right’s Commission – for treatment of Covid-19 and other ailments in July.

On August 27, Rao was discharged from the hospital on recovering from COVID-19 and sent back to jail amid allegations by his family that they were being kept in the dark about his health condition.

Rao’s bail application is also being heard by the Bombay High Court, where the NIA has said his age, health condition and the pandemic were being used as a “ruse” for undue advantage.

Hearing Bharadwaj’s plea, the court noted the submissions made by the NIA and the Maharashtra government that the prison authorities were taking all precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, and she was being given the necessary medical care. “In our view, no case is made out for grant of bail,” the HC said.

Bharadwaj has been lodged in prison since September 2018 following her arrest in the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case. The case pertains to the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017. It is alleged that speeches made by some activists led to violence near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on outskirts of Pune city the next day.

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