MUMBAI: A special NIA court this week allowed Elgar Parishad accused Sudha Bharadwaj to access five books from outside jail every month.

The court also said that the superintendent should carefully examine the books and shall not allow her to accept them if they contain objectionable material, which preaches violence, vulgar, obscene, pornographic or material propagating banned organizations, namely Revolutionary Democratic Front or CPI (Maoist).

Last month, Bharadwaj (58) and co accused Gautam Navlakha and Hany Babu, sought access to five books sent by family and friends from outside prison every month. They said that the library did not have enough books.

Their pleas further said that the ICMR guidelines and other studies state that the coronavirus does not survive on surfaces and hence books are not a Covid-19 carrier. Navlakha and Babu said that they had had no access to newspapers over the last six months.

While Bharadwaj has been allowed access to the books by the court, the pleas filed by Navlakha and Babu are still pending.

Bharadwaj’s plea said that that books sent to the her in the last few months by post and those delivered by hand by her lawyers were not accepted by the jail and had been returned repeatedly.

“It is submitted that the applicant is a lawyer and a law professor who has spent her lifetime reading and studying books and texts and she cannot be denied access to books arbitrarily,” the plea said.

Her plea also cited the Maharashtra Prison Manual “Facilities to Prisoners” which states that “an unconvicted criminal prisoner shall be permitted to purchase at his own expense or to obtain from private sources such number of books as the Superintendent considers reasonable”.

The court had then said that since it’s in the purview of the prison manual to allow these things, the defence advocate should place on record that she had approached the prison authorities and that they had refused to accept the books.