SC grants bail to Shoma Sen in Bhima Koregaon case

New Delhi, Apr 5 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Dalit and women’s rights activist Shoma Sen in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case.

A bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Augustine George Masih, after noting that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) did not oppose the bail plea of Shoma Sen, granted the bail.

The Court said that the stringent conditions for bail under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) would not apply.

“Section 43(D)(5) restriction should not apply to the petitioner. We have noted that the Additional Solicitor General (who appeared for the NIA) stated custody is no longer needed. Once we hold that 43(d)(5) of the 1967 Act does not apply, we have seen she is of advanced age and the effect of delaying trial at this stage, in addition to her medical conditions. She should not be denied the privilege of being released on bail,” the Court said in its order.

The court directed Shoma Sen to surrender her passport before the trial court directed her not to leave Maharashtra without the court’s permission. The court directed that she be present before the trial court during the examination of witnesses, etc.

The Court further set the following conditions while granting bail: She shall inform the NIA about her residence, inform the NIA officer of her mobile number, and ensure that number remains active and charged. The GPS on her mobile device should be active, and her phone should be paired with the phone of the NIA officer so that her location can be ascertained. If the condition is breached, it would be open to prosecution to seek cancellation of bail, the court added.

Shoma was arrested on June 6, 2018, and booked for offenses under UAPA.

The Bombay High Court had last year directed Shoma to approach the special NIA court for bail. To this end, she filed an appeal before the apex court.

She had first applied for bail before the Pune Sessions Court in December 2018 before the filing of the chargesheet, and another application after the filing of the chargesheet.

Both applications were rejected by the Sessions Court in November 2019.

After this, the investigation of the case was transferred to the National Investigation Agency (NIA), and the trial was transferred to the special NIA court.

Sen then approached the High Court for bail in 2020.

The High Court in January 2023 asked her to approach the special NIA court first.

Sen then chose to appeal against that High Court order before the apex court.

Senior Advocate Anand Grover, along with advocates Nupur Kumar and Paras Nath Singh, appeared for Sen in the Apex Court and applied for her bail, which was granted.

Advocates Siddharth Dharmadhikari and Aaditya Aniruddha Pande appeared for the State of Maharashtra.

Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj appeared for the NIA.

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