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'Disappointing': No SC relief to winner of US feminist jurist award Sudha Bhardwaj

Counterview Desk

Friends and family members of Sudha Bharadwaj, a top undertrial human rights activist who is in jail for her alleged involvement in the controversial Bhima-Koregaon case, have said that they are “disappointed” that the Supreme Court has not granted any relief to her on medical grounds.
In a statement, they said, the court, in its order, “is risking the possibility of Covid 19, given Bharadwaj’s serious comorbidities”, underlining, she has dedicated her life fighting for the rights of minorities, Adivasis and trade union workers, one reason why she was “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.”

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The hearing of Sudha Bharadwaj’s Special Leave Petition for medical bail in the Supreme Court on Thursday did not yield any relief for her, giving a big jolt to the immense faith vested by Bharadwaj’s friends and family members in the Apex Court’s humanitarian rationale.
Although the Apex Court advised filing a regular bail as this was a ‘good case on merits’, 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.
Sudha Bharadwaj continues to suffer type two Diabetes Mellitus, and Ischemic Heart Disease (developed whilst in prison), which places her in the ‘highrisk’ category of persons for Covid-19.
Further, Sudha Bharadwaj has also developed Osteo-arthritis and Tinea Corporis (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.

Earlier rejections of the medical bail from Bombay High Court and Special NlA Judge Mumbai

Advocate Vrinda Grover appeared for Sudha Bharadwaj in the Special Leave Petition challenging the Bombay High Court order of 28th August which overlooked the above mentioned ailments that Bharadwaj is suffering since her incarceration at Byculla prison for close to two years now with no trial in sight.
During the High Court proceedings, the jail produced multiple medical reports for Sudha Bharadwaj, which demonstrate that she suffers from serious comorbidities such as type two Diabetes Mellitus, and Ischemic Heart Disease (which developed in prison), which places her in the ‘high-risk’ category of persons for whom Covid-19 could prove to be fatal. These reports clearly show that health of the Petitioner has significantly worsened in prison, with new diseases and ailments developing.
The Hon’ble Bombay High Court overlooked the comorbidities and dismissed the plea for interim medical bail of the Petitioner solely because the opinion of the medical officer was that presently the Petitioner’s “general health was stable and satisfactory”. Bhardawaj’s petition in the Supreme Court stated that “[T]he impugned judgment demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the manner in which the appeal was disposed of -- the Hon’ble High Court was called upon to rule on the comorbidities of the Petitioner and the risk it places her to inside prison if she contracts Covid-19; and not her existing condition being stable or unstable.”

NIA court ignores SC’s mandate of decongestion of prisons and denies bail

The Special Leave Petition further reminded the Court of its own order of 23rd March that mandated decongestion of prisons to spread the virus outbreak in prison. This order has been deliberately ignored by the Special NIA Judge Mumbai in its order of 29th May falsely arguing that those accused under UAPA were not eligible for medical bail.
Advocate Grover also argued that Sudha Bharadwaj has been a law abiding citizen and that there was no risk of her fleeing, as demonstrated during her temporary bail granted by the court to attend to her father’s funeral in Bangalore last year.
Friends and family of Sudha Bharadwaj join to register their disappointment over the dismissal of the bail plea.

Sudha Bharadwaj counted one amongst world’s RBG

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 minimum that we, as Sudha Bharadwaj’s extended family members, expect of the concerned authorities is a thorough and complete check-up by concerned authorities in whose care her life is vested with to ensure her wellbeing. 
 We reiterate our demand that
  • A complete and thorough check up of her health condition is conducted immediately
  • One of her family members is allowed to be present during the medical examination in the hospital 
  • Appeal to the jail authorities to decongest the jails, test all the inmates and make appropriate provisions to avoid a Covid outbreak in the jail. 
---
*On behalf of family and friends: Maaysha (daughter of Sudha Bharadwaj), Kaladas Dahariya and Vimal Bhai

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