Senior Advocate Anand Grover representing the Telugu Poet, Varavara Rao has on Tuesday, urged the Bombay High Court to grant bail to Rao on medical grounds, while citing that the Taloja Jail Hospital does not have the infrastructure to monitor his condition.
The division bench comprising of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale was hearing a plea moved by Rao’s wife Hemalata who sought bail for her husband on medical grounds. The bench asked Grover “The hospital (Nanavati) with medical experts has given the opinion he is fit for discharge. Can that be substituted?” To this, Grover said “The hospital says he is hemodynamically stable and fit to be discharged. But once discharged and shifted to Taloja hospital he will require close monitoring and medical attention. But Taloja Jail (in Navi Mumbai) does not have the infrastructure for that.”
Further, Grover argued that Rao’s condition has progressively deteriorated in the prison hospital and he suffers from a series of ailments including hypertension, chronic kidney ailments, and a neurological disorder. He narrated how Rao was unable to brush his teeth just 48 days after his discharge from the hospital and necessary tests to monitor his sodium levels were not conducted till his admission to Nanavati Hospital last month.
Therefore, Grover urged the court to let Rao stay with his family so that he can be fit to face the trial against him in the Bhima-Koregaon case.
On the other hand, Rao’s wife Hemalatha, through a separate petition, has sought a declaration that Rao’s fundamental rights to health, dignity, and life, and thereby his rights, under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution have been violated by the prison officials.
Rao was shifted to Nanavati Hospital, after the High Court on November 18 observed that he was “almost on deathbed”. Since then, the court has extended his stay in the hospital on December 15, December 21, and then on January 7. The NIA has, however, maintained that he was fit to be shifted back to Taloja Jail, where he was lodged before being hospitalized.
On 13th January, the National Investigation Agency had submitted the health report of Rao from Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, where he is currently admitted. The court had asked the NIA and Maharashtra government to consider Rao’s age and health conditions while making submissions in the bail plea.
Rao along with several other left-leaning civil rights activists was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case in August 2019. He was also been accused of having Maoist links and has been booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.