Surendra Gadling Asks Bombay HC for Temporary Bail on Mother's Death Anniversary

An NIA court had last year rejected his temporary bail plea to perform his mother's last rites.

New Delhi: Advocate Surendra Gadling, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, on Tuesday urged the Bombay high court to grant him temporary bail to take part in certain rituals on the first death anniversary of his mother next month.

Gadling had moved the high court last year seeking bail.

In his plea, filed through senior lawyer Indira Jaising and advocate R. Sathyanarayan, Gadling had challenged a special court’s order from 2020 that rejected his plea for temporary bail to attend the last rites of his mother.

Gadling was arrested by the Pune police in June 2018 (the case was later taken over by the NIA), and has remained lodged in the Taloja central prison in Navi Mumbai since then awaiting trial.

On August 15, 2020, his mother died in Nagpur.

Gadling then filed the temporary bail plea before the special NIA court in Mumbai (where the case was shifted for trial), seeking release from jail for three weeks to perform his mother’s last rites, but his application was rejected.

He had then moved the HC, where his plea was adjourned several times.

However, on Tuesday, advocate Jaising told a bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar that Gadling be granted temporary bail to attend some rituals on his mother’s first death anniversary.

“The funeral rites of the mother have not been conducted till now and they have been planned on the first death anniversary, on August 15, 2021,” Jaising told the high court, urging it to grant temporary bail to Gadling.

The high court posted the plea for further hearing on July 22.

The hearing took place at a time when there has been building pressure on the state agencies to drop the case and release the prisoners. The case has been called a witch-hunt against human rights defenders. One of the 16 rights activists arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy, passed away while in custody on Monday, after his health took a serious hit in jail and he contracted COVID-19.

On Tuesday, an American digital forensics firm released a report saying the so-called ‘evidence’ found on Gadling’s computer had been planted by a cyber attacker, who had access to the lawyer’s computer over a long period of time. Fourteen significant documents, on the basis of which the NIA has held him in jail for over three years, were planted on his computer using a malware NetWire, Arsenal Consulting found.

This is the third report that the forensic firm has published in the past months. The first two reports – published on February 8, 2021 and March 27, 2021 – looked into the laptop of Rona Wilson, a prisoners’ rights activist, also arrested along with Gadling in the case.

Despite these serious questions on the entire case, arrested accused like Gadling are having a hard time receiving even temporary bail for important matters like his mother’s last rites. Swamy too was not granted medical bail despite his plea to the Bombay high court and his failing health.

(With PTI inputs)