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'Trial Judge Not Authorised': Sudha Bharadwaj Moves Bombay HC For Default Bail

Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane, Bharadwaj has argued in her plea, was not authorised to take cognisance of Pune Police's supplementary chargesheet against her under the NIA Act.

New Delhi: Sudha Bharadwaj, one of the 16 held over what law enforcement believes is their connection with the Elgar Parishad case, has approached the Bombay high court seeking default bail over the contention that the trial judge was not authorised to take cognisance of a 2019 chargesheet against her.

LiveLaw has reported that Bharadwaj, a lawyer and activist, has sought to demonstrate in an application filed under Section 167(2) of the Code of Criminal Procedure that the court of Additional Sessions Judge Kishor Vadane was not authorised to take cognisance of Pune Police’s supplementary chargesheet against her.

The section of the CrPC stipulates on jurisdiction of a judge and limitations this places on the nature of orders she can make.

Bharadwaj has cited Right to Information request replies to support her point. She has pleaded that this means that the judge could not have granted the Pune Police an extension to file the chargesheet either. The case is now being investigated by the National Investigation Agency.

The extension was granted on November 26, 2018, and Pune Police filed the chargesheet on February 21, 2019.

Bharadwaj’s plea says that the Additional Sessions Judge’s court was not the designated special court under the National Investigation Agency Act, which has exclusive jurisdiction to try scheduled offences, including those under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

Justice Sarang Kotwal, hearing the plea on Friday, asked for the petition to be placed before a division bench, LiveLaw reported.

In May, family members of the activists jailed in the Elgar Parishad case, including Sudha Bharadwaj’s, wrote a letter to Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, seeking their release from prisons in view of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last year, Bharadwaj’s family had expressed grave worry at her condition and the deterioration of her health in jail.

Last year, as the first wave of the pandemic raged the National Investigation Agency had said that the aged trade unionist who suffers from diabetes and hypertension has been “taking undue benefit of the pandemic” in appealing for bail and opposed her plea.