Bombay High Court on Monday issued a notice to the state of Maharashtra and National Investigation Agency (NIA) to respond to a petition on whether the family members of the 81 years old social activist and Telugu poet, Varvara Rao, can be allowed to see from a distance at Nanavati super specialty hospital after his health condition has reportedly worsened. He is one of the 11 accused in the Elgar Parishad case and the Bhima Koregaon case.
Mr. Rao who has been tested COVID 19 positive on July 16 and also suffering from old age-related health issues like the neurological ailments was transferred on Sunday morning to the privately-owned Nanavati super-specialty hospital from the state ran St. George hospital whose health facilities are few and far lesser than the Nanavati super specialty hospital.
The court issued the direction after the Rao’s counsel Sudeep Pasbola informed the court that the accused is on the verge of death and his bail application will be taken up soon by the court. Then the court considered the prayer of Mr. Pasbola and directed the authorities i.e. the state government and the national investigation agency to respond on the issue by Wednesday and the hearing will be taken up the following day.
The learned counsel also informed the division bench comprising of Hon’ble Mr. Justice SS Shinde and Tavade that his health condition has been worsening from the date he has been shifted to Taloja’s jail in Navi Mumbai and further the condition worsened in the previous hospital where he tested positive for COVID 19 and suffered a head injury as he fell down from the bed.
The matter of his health issue was also raised on a plea filed, seeking an inquiry against the superintendent of Taloja jail but the matter was not listed on Monday. The petition has alleged that the jail authorities did not comply with the prescription issued by the JJ hospital when Rao was admitted there on May 28, which deteriorated his condition, his wife and daughter also confirmed that he was unclear and disturbed during a call on July 11. The family has alleged that he was discharged in a hurry from the hospital so as to obstruct his bail plea filed in the special NIA court.
Appearing on behalf of the NIA additional solicitor general Anil Singh argued that he has been given best possible treatment in the Nanavati super specialty hospital where he was shifted after suffering a head injury and the treatment of COVID is according to the guidelines issued by the ICMR and told that COVID guidelines do not allow any visitors to the hospital. Adding to its public prosecutor Deepak Thakare told that they can have a video call to see him.
On court giving heed to Mr. Pasbola, both told the court that they will seek instructions from the authorities and bail plea will be heard on Thursday.
The NIA who has taken up the investigation from the Pune police in February has opposed the bail of Mr. Rao who was charged under UAPA as there is no provision of temporary bail under the act.
Earlier on January 1 2018 violence happened between the Dalit and Marathas near the village of Bhima-Koregaon in the Pune district, where thousands of Dalits have gathered on the occasion of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Koregaon.
On this day in the year, 1818 British Dalits soldier defeated the Peshwa Bajirao and his Maratha army. There was a mob attack on them which resulted in the Violence later.
On the initial police inquiry, it was found that the violence was linked to an event that happened just a day before known as the Elgar Parishad event because of the speeches and performance made therein.
It is also alleged that it was organized by banned Maoist groups and an FIR was filed and then on the police have arrested Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, and Shoma Sen for their link with Maoists and organizing the event.
Further, the police have arrested Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Varvara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, and Rd. Anand Teltumbde taking the number to 11. The probe is on and the matter is under trial.
This news has been written and submitted by Mr. Nikhil Punshi during his course of internship at B&B Associates LLP. Mr. Nikhil is a third-year law student at the Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur.