Activist Sudha Bharadwaj made an application before the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court on Tuesday, seeking that court direct the agency and its prosecutor withdraw their “defamatory” remark against her.
On December 10, Bharadwaj had made a plea seeking copies of witness statements in which the identities of witnesses and their addresses be protected as allowed by law, but the contents of the statements not be truncated in various portions. Her plea had said that the truncation is obstructing her defence as the statements are not making sense with the truncations.
To this, the NIA, in its reply filed on December 21, had stated that the “application is filed actuated with malice” and that Bharadwaj is “digging the identities of the aforesaid witnesses so as to cause harm to them”. The reply signed by Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty and the investigating officer had further stated that “under the guise of constitutional rights, the applicant is risking the lives of witnesses”.
Bharadwaj, in her plea filed on Tuesday before the court through advocate Chandni Chawla, called the allegations “baseless” and said that the prosecution cannot be allowed to level such defamatory and scurrilous allegations against her merely because she is accused of a crime.
The plea sought that the court reprimand the NIA and its prosecutor for their "irresponsible" conduct and direct them to withdraw the allegations. “The prosecution has a responsibility to act with fairness and cannot run roughshod over a vulnerable and incarcerated person by indulging in such kind of scandalous mudslinging,” the 58-year-old’s application said, adding that “the prosecution cannot be allowed to reduce the Hon’ble court to a forum where gossip and slander be bandied about in the guise of legal arguments.”
The plea also sought that the remarks be expunged from the court’s record. The court has directed the NIA to file its reply to it.
Advocate Chawla also made an application for Bharadwaj and her co-accused Delhi University professor Hany Babu and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha to be given access to newspapers in prison and to books sent by family. Chawla told the court that the jail had denied these and asked for a court order. The court said that, as per the prison manual, these matters are within the province of the jail superintendents to permit. It asked her to make an affidavit that the concerned superintendents had been approached and they have refused to allow the items.
The court, on Tuesday, also directed the NIA to provide witness statements to Bharadwaj as sought in her earlier plea, truncated only to the extent of names and addresses of witnesses.