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regular-article-logo Saturday, 22 June 2024

Bail in Elgar case after 6 years, Supreme Court points to Shoma Kanti Sen's prolonged incarceration

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih set aside a Bombay High Court order refusing bail to Sen and imposed several conditions on her

R. Balaji New Delhi Published 06.04.24, 06:21 AM
The Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court. File picture

The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to civil liberty activist and academic Shoma Kanti Sen in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, taking into account her prolonged incarceration and the delay in framing charges against her.

A bench of Justices Aniruddha Bose and Augustine George Masih set aside a Bombay High Court order refusing bail to Sen and imposed several conditions on her.

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Sen will not be able to leave Maharashtra without the permission of the special court. She will have to surrender her passport and furnish her address and mobile number to the investigating officer of the National Investigation Agency (NIA).

She will have to keep the GPS of her phone active round the clock and her phone needs to be paired with that of the investigating officer to enable him to identify her exact location. Sen will also have to report once every fortnight to the station house officer of the police station under whose jurisdiction her residence falls.

Arrested on June 6, 2018, Sen has since been in custody awaiting trial.

Grating her bail on Friday, Justice Bose said: “In our view, under ordinary circumstances, we might not have interfered with the high court’s judgment and order which is under appeal before us. The course adopted by the high court was a permissible course. We, however, must take into account that the high court had passed the aforesaid order when the appellant, a lady, was in detention for over four and a half years. At present, the appellant has been in detention for almost six years, her age is over 66 years and charges have not yet been framed.”

The apex court prima facie agreed with additional solicitor-general K.M. Natraj, appearing for the NIA, that the anti-terror agency must be permitted to contest Sen’s bail plea before the special NIA court based on materials disclosed in the second supplementary chargesheet.

The court, however, said: “We are concerned here with the question of liberty of a pre-trial detenue, who is a senior citizen, in custody for almost six years, against whom charges are yet to be framed.”

The apex court noted that there was no allegation that Sen had delivered any provocative speech at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the city’s outskirts.

“She was also not named in the initial FIR, which was registered at Vishrambaug police station, Pune, on 08.01.2018,” the court added.

The US Commission on International Religious Freedom had earlier said: “Sen reportedly suffers from hypertension, blood pressure, and other ailments, which have reportedly worsened in prison due to lack of medical and preventative care.”

CPIML-Liberation central committee member Clifton D’Rozario on Friday tweeted: “Finally. Arrested in June 2018, she has been incarcerated for almost six years. These draconian laws have to go, and this fascist regime
has to be thrown out of power.”

Additional reporting by Pheroze L. Vincent

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