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Bail to Sudha Bharadwaj: Civil rights groups demand release of all B-K case accused

By Our Representative 

Civil rights groups, even as welcoming the Supreme Court order granting default bail to Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, have demanded that release of all human rights defenders arrested in the Bhima Koregaon (BK) case.
The People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) said the “short order of the Supreme Court” on December 7 dismissing the Special Leave Petition (SLP) of the National Investigation Agency (NIA)” is a “vindication of the long campaign against the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by the PUCL and other allied groups.
NIA’s SPL challenged the grant of statutory bail to Advocate Sudha Bharadwaj, an activist lawyer and a member of PUCL, adding, “It indicates a shift in the larger public mood and judicial mindset towards acknowledging the UAPA as an unjust and undemocratic tool to stifle any viewpoint which the government considers problematic.”
According to PUCL, “The dismissal of the NIA petition is in accordance with the Supreme Court precedent in Bikramjeet Singh v State of Punjab, which rightly sees the right to statutory bail as a part of Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, the right to life.”
It added, “The Supreme Court had correctly reasoned that, ‘personal liberty in one of the cherished objects of the Indian Constitution and deprivation of the same can only be in accordance with law’, implying that the technical conditions for denial of statutory bail have to be construed strictly.”
Signed by Dr V Suresh, general secretary, PUCL, its statement said, “The PUCL would like to reiterate that the ultimate objective is the repeal of the UAPA, the release of all those unjustly imprisoned under the UAPA and the withdrawal of prosecution against the BK-16.”
It added, “The PUCL is confident that the release of Sudha Bharadwaj on bail which is now imminent pursuant to the orders of the courts, including the Special NIA Court today, will imbue the campaign which began with the unjust imprisonment of the BK-16 with renewed vigour and widen the circle of those who will speak out against this draconian law.”

'Disband NIA'

In a separate statement, the Paschim Banga Khet Majoor Samity (PBKMS), welcoming the verdict of the Supreme Court of India, demanded, “No restrictions should be placed on the movements and activities of the sexagenarian activist within the country and all possible support should be made available to enable her in accessing adequate medical care for her failing health which got severely aggravated during her long stay in the prison.”
PBKMS said, “The penchant of most ruling dispensations at present to view acts of dissent as anti-national activities signals a dangerous trend in a society built on democratic ideals. The nervousness of the political leadership is writ large on the high handedness meted out to trade union activists and human rights defenders on voicing concerns about the state of affairs in the nation.”
It added, “The blatant use of the sedition law and the demagoguery of the political leadership have turned the nation into a police state. Use of UAPA (Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 1967) and related laws and section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code should be reviewed by the Indian parliament against the fundamental rights guaranteed by our constitution.”
It demanded “unconditional release of all the human rights activists and political prisoners languishing in prisons after being framed under sedition and anti-terrorism laws”; immediate bail to all the human rights activists “incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case”; revocation of section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code and anti-terrorism laws that are used “indiscriminately, especially by the central investigation agencies”; and disbanding of NIA and transferring all the cases under the central agency to the respective State police forces.”

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