Court allows video medical check-up for jailed activist Varavara Rao
A divisional bank of the Bombay High Court ordered the Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to organize a video medical consultation of Nanavati Hospital doctors for the 81-year-old Telugu poet P Varavara Rao at the jail since 2018. in connection with the Elgar Parishad case.
The court ordered that the consultation be held early Thursday or Friday morning, and that the report be presented to the court on November 16.
The court also ordered the doctors at Nanavati hospital and the state that if they could not determine Rao’s health, they should visit Taloja jail or arrange for a doctor to check on the activist.
The court, consisting of Justices AK Menon and SP Tavade, was also hearing a writ of writ filed by P Hemlatha, Rao’s wife.
Lead defender Indira Jaising, who appeared on Rao’s behalf, informed the court that it was urgent to hear the petition because a Rao inmate from Taloja Prison had spoken with Hemlata on Wednesday and informed her that Rao’s health was deteriorating. quickly.
The NIA, in its affidavit, confirmed that Rao’s health was not good, but the doctors at Taloja jail were monitoring his condition regularly and providing him with all necessary treatment. In light of these events, Jaising requested that Rao be transferred back to Nanavati Hospital from Taloja Prison.
“There is a legitimate fear that Rao will lose his life if he continues to be held in Taloja prison. The court was not informed about Rao’s transfer from the Nanavati Hospital to the Taloja prison. No medical report has been submitted after July 30, ”Jaising argued.
“The condition of detention cannot be cruel, inhuman and degrading. But it is the case of Rao. You are violating your rights recognized in articles 21 and 32 of the Constitution. If he dies in jail, it will be a case of death in custody, ”Jaisingh said.
The lawyer then requested an interim order to take Rao back to the Nanavati hospital and also to set up an independent medical board to assess Rao’s condition and present his report in court.
To a question from the bank about “why not have a board before moving to the Nanavati Hospital”, Jaising replied “Taloja prison does not have the means.”
Jaising continued to criticize the affidavit filed by the NIA, saying: “It doesn’t mention his current health status, it just talks about his crime and UAPA. The NIA has not done its homework in preparing the affidavit. It appears that the affidavit is intended to harm the court. ”
Additional Attorney General Anil Singh, appearing for the NIA, and Chief Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, however, refuted Jaising’s allegations and said that doctors at Taloja jail were regularly monitoring Rao’s condition.
Thakare also submitted a November 12 medical report saying that all the checks had been carried out in consultation with the doctors at Nanavati hospital.
Singh further added that the agency was concerned about Rao’s health and therefore transferred him to Nanavati hospital as per the request of Rao’s family. He added that the family had been given access to Rao’s video calls when requested, so Jaising’s accusations were invalid.
Rao was first taken to JJ Hospital on May 28 after he fell unconscious, but was discharged on June 1. The family alleged that Rao was hastily discharged to obstruct his bail bond. “He was not normal at the time of discharge. While the normal range for sodium was 134-145, it reached only 133 and the normal range for potassium was 3.5 to 5.0, it reached only 3.55, according to the hospital record. But later, on June 2, all of this – admission to the hospital, getting a normal report, having him discharged – was found to be part of a police conspiracy. June 2 was the date of the hearing on his application for bail for health reasons in the NIA Special Sessions Court and the police argued against his bail by showing this “normal” hospital report. The judge accepted that and rejected bail on June 26 ”, the family had issued a statement.
Rao continued to show signs of delirium and after voices were raised from various quarters, Rao was admitted back to JJ Hospital on July 13. He was later transferred to St George’s Hospital after testing positive for Covid-19.
The National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) also intervened and sent notices to the Maharashtra government asking it to ensure that Rao is cared for and that adequate medical facilities are arranged. He had also requested a report on Rao’s health.
The commission had observed that the right to life and medical care is one of the basic human rights and that the State has a duty to provide the same to prisoners. The state of Maharashtra has been ordered to establish a medical board to examine Rao’s health, provide him with the best possible treatment and bear the cost of it. Later, Rao was transferred to Nanavati Hospital for treatment. He was transferred back to Taloja jail on August 28.