By Friends and Family of Sudha Bharadwaj
Aug 28, 2020
Exactly two years after her arrest in the infamous Bhima Koregaon Conspiracy Case, on Friday 28 August, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court turned down the medical bail application of Sudha Bharadwaj, a well-known trade unionist and lawyer from Chhattisgarh.
Calling this travesty of justice, Maaysha, Sudha Bharadwaj’s daughter, said it is ironical that her mother who has spent her lifetime working with the marginalized communities in their struggles for justice and dignity and upheld the rights enshrined in Constitution, is being denied the basic right to bail, especially during a pandemic, when courts have relaxed rules of parole, even for those convicted of murder. This denial sadly leaves her to languish in jail despite her frail health.
Sudha Bharadwaj, who is currently in the Byculla Women’s jail in Mumbai, had moved the Bombay High Court on June 11th, 2020 seeking bail on medical grounds, citing vulnerability to the raging pandemic of COVID on account of her health conditions. In her bail application, she had said that she suffers from diabetes and hypertension, and has a past history of pulmonary tuberculosis – all of which coupled with her age of almost 60 years, makes her more vulnerable to COVID-19 infection. She also has complaints of osteoarthritis, which makes movement difficult.
In response, the Byculla jail authorities submitted a medical report dated 21.07.2020, which confirmed that she has diabetes, osteoarthritis, and a history of pulmonary tuberculosis. It also showed that her hypertension had aggravated to Ischemic Heart Disease, a heart problem caused by narrowing of arteries that causes reduced blood flow to the heart muscle and can lead to heart attack. This was reiterated in a second medical report submitted on 03.08.2020, which has caused great concern to her family and friends, and which was pointed out in one of the hearings of the High Court. The jail was then asked to submit another report at the hearing dated 17.08.2020.
The third medical report, dated 21.08.2020 submitted by the jail mysteriously notes only diabetes, completely ignoring her ischaemic heart condition, noted in two medical reports of the previous month. This is particularly worrisome as with this condition Sudha Bharadwaj is a potential candidate for myocardial infarction and should undergo further medical investigations in the form of CT angiography/echocardiogram. This report further overlooks her medical condition of osteoarthritis and records a mere general complaint of ‘bodyache’.
Clearly, this is misleading, or at the very least an incomplete medical report. Despite these grave discrepancies being pointed out, the Bombay High Court has chosen to accept this latest medical report which notes the health condition of Sudha Bharadwaj as “stable and satisfactory,” and has consequently, dismissed the bail application.
This dismissal of bail based on fallacious medical report is extremely disappointing to friends and family of Sudha Bharadwaj, who have been very concerned about her deteriorating health condition.
Presently, there are 12 well-known intellectuals, professors, writers etc in jail in connection with this case. Starting from August 28, over 70 organizations have issued a National Call for a week of protest, to raise a demand for not only the release of those arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case, but also the CAA-NRC protestors, journalists and other dissidents currently in jail, and to ask for the repeal of draconian acts like UAPA.
It is shameful and regretful that the denial of Sudha Bharadwaj’s bail comes in the midst of countrywide protest demanding her freedom as part of National Week of Protest Against Assault on Democracy.
We, as friends and family of Sudha Bharadwaj wish to register our outrage at the attempt of the jail authorities in deliberately hiding facts of her health condition.
Friends and Family:
Maaysha Bharadwaj, Akshra Bhardwaj, Kaladas Dahariya, Ramakant Banjare, Shreya, Kavita Srivastav, Indira Chakravarti, Alok Shukla, Vaibhav Vaish, Madhur Bharatiya, Vimal Bhai, Priyanshu Gupta, Aparna Choudhary, Bijaya Chanda, AP Josy, Malini Subramania, K J Mukherjee, Smiti Sharma, Neelabh Dubey, Shikha Pandey, Manan Ganguli, Priyanka Shukla, Monu Kuhar, Anuradha Talwar