No bail, but doctors to examine Varavara Rao
Ailing Telugu poet and activist P Varavara Rao, arrested in August 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case and constantly denied bail, can get a better medical case with a division court of the higher court of Bombay on Thursday leading Maharashtra and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to arrange for him an immediate video medical consultation with doctors from Nanavati Hospital. If doctors believe a visit is necessary, they should visit Taloja jail, where Rao is being held, the court ordered, asking for a report to be submitted before November 16.
The court, made up of Justices AK Menon and SP Tavade, also agreed to the hearing request after the report was presented and released the hearing on Rao’s wife P Hemlatha’s petition on November 17 at 3 a.m. p.m. The court was hearing a court petition calling for Rao’s bail for health reasons.
The HC process on Thursday came a day after the Supreme Court asked the higher courts to “exercise their jurisdiction” and guarantee that people’s freedom is protected. Judge DY Chandrachud said this while listening to a statement submitted by Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami seeking provisional bail. The court granted him bail and that same day he was released from Taloja jail.
Lead attorney Indira Jaising, who appeared on Rao’s behalf, informed the court that hearing the petition is urgent because a fellow inmate spoke to Hemlatha on Wednesday and informed him that Rao’s health was deteriorating. The NIA admitted in its affidavit that Rao’s health is not good, but added that doctors at Taloja jail regularly checked his condition and provided him with necessary treatment.
“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 enshrined in articles 21 and 32 of the Constitution. If he dies in jail, it will be a case of death in custody. ”
Jaising then applied for an interim order for Rao to be sent to Nanavati hospital and also to set up an independent medical board to assess his condition.
Additional Attorney General Anil Singh, who appeared for the NIA, and Chief Prosecutor Deepak Thakare claimed that doctors at Taloja Jail were regularly monitoring Rao’s health. Thakare also submitted a medical report on November 12, stating that a check-up was performed in consultation with doctors from the Nanavati hospital. He added that when Rao’s condition worsened, he was transferred to Nanavati and his family was allowed to have video calls with him.
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. “June 2 was the hearing date on his request for bail for health reasons in the NIA Special Sessions Court and the police argued against his bail by showing a normal hospital report,” his family had said. His bond was denied by an NIA court on June 26.
However, 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 Human Rights Commission (NHRC) also stepped in and issued a notice on July 13 to the Maharashtra government, asking it to ensure that Rao was taken care of. He also searched for a report on Rao’s health. Maharashtra’s chief secretary responded on July 22 and said appropriate care was provided.
The commission observed that the right to life and health care is one of the basic human rights and that the State has a duty to provide the same to prisoners. Later, Rao was transferred to Nanavati Hospital for treatment. He was transferred back to Taloja jail on August 28.
In October, Hemlatha moved to the Supreme Court requesting bail, but a three-judge court that heard the case on October 29, while noting that the Bombay HC had not heard the case since September 17, refused to Act accordingly. The court asked the Bombay court to hear his request as soon as possible.
Rao is accused of participating and delivering an inflammatory speech at Elgar Parishad’s conference in Pune on December 31, 2017.
Police have claimed that activists such as Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferriera, Gautam Navlakha and Anand Teltumbde planned the Elgar Parishad conclave, which aimed to incite violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1, 2018. Many of them have been arrested. , and the majority charged under the draconian UAPA law.