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 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 ‘high risk’ category of persons for Covid-19.
Bharadwaj was arrested under draconian UAPA in connection with the investigation into the January 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence.
Further, Sudha Bharadwaj has also developed Osteo-arthritis and Tinea Corporis (fungal infection) in prison. Due to osteoarthritis, 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 28 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 the health of the Petitioner has significantly worsened in prison, with new diseases and ailments developing.
The 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”. Bhardwaj’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 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 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 is given after the late Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a feminist Jurist who served on the American Supreme Court.
The minimum that 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.
They reiterated their demand that a complete and thorough check up of Bharadwaj’s health condition is conducted immediately and one of her family members is allowed to be present during the medical examination in the hospital ·
They appealed to the jail authorities to decongest the jails, test all the inmates, and make appropriate provisions to avoid a Covid outbreak in the jail.