Elgar Parishad case: Court rejects bail pleas of Shoma Sen and Varavara Rao

Elgar Parishad case: Court rejects bail pleas of Shoma Sen and Varavara Rao

Sen was arrested in June 2018 and Rao in August 2018.

Bhavna UchilUpdated: Tuesday, March 31, 2020, 04:38 PM IST
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Varavara Rao | ANI Photo

A special court on Tuesday rejected the temporary bail pleas filed by civil activists Shoma Sen and Varavara Rao – accused in the Elgar Parishad case, on the grounds of the coronavirus pandemic.

Special NIA judge RR Bhosale observed while rejecting the bail pleas that the charges against the accused under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) are serious and the UAPA was not covered under the government notification for release of prisoners.

Sen, 61 is lodged in Byculla Women’s prison and Rao, 80 at Taloja Central Prison, after being shifted from Pune’s Yerawada jail. Sen and Rao had sought temporary bail on the grounds of the coronavirus pandemic for a period as thought appropriate by court. Sen’s advocate Sharif Shaikh said they will be challenging the order in the High Court. Advocate R. Sathyanarayan for Rao said they will have to do something but have not yet decided about challenging the order.

Arguing her bail plea, Shaikh had told court that older people like Sen with underlying conditions are more prone to the infection. Sen has osteoarthritis, high blood pressure, glaucoma and was vulnerable to the virus, he had said. Rao said in his bail plea that he is 80 years of age and suffers from multiple ailments. His bail application mentioned that he had already written to the jail superintendent of Taloja jail earlier in the month for a separate confinement as he was already a patient of respiratory problems and was suffering from suffocation.

The National Investigation Agency’s Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty had opposed their bail pleas on the basis that their bail pleas on merit have been rejected by the Pune sessions court where the matter was being conducted earlier. Shetty also told court that the Supreme Court’s directions on letting undertrials on interim bail was not applicable to Sen and Rao as the apex court’s directions are applicable for offences under the IPC whereas they have been booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). He had also argued that they have not produced any medical documents to support their claims in the bail pleas.

Meanwhile, the special court allowed a plea filed by Advocate Susan Abraham for permitting telephone access to them and directed jail authorities to make appropriate arrangements for the same. Rao, Sen and seven other accused in the case had sought telephone access to family members and lawyers since prisons visits have been suspended due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

Sen was arrested in June 2018 and Rao in August 2018 for their involvement in Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017 which according to the Pune police had led to violence near a war memorial in Koregaon Bhima near Pune the next day.

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