Friday, September 29, 2023

Bombay High Court directs Varavara Rao to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital for treatment, state to bear all the expenses

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New Delhi (ILNS): The Bombay High Court today heard a bail plea filed by wife of poet-activist Varavara Rao seeking his immediate bail on medical grounds and has directed Varavara Rao to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital for tests and treatment immediately, as a special case and directed State to bear all the expenses. The court also said that Rao cannot be discharged without informing the court, and family members should be allowed to visit him, subject to protocols. 

A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar was hearing the plea moved by Pendyala Hemlatha, the wife of the 81-year-old poet- activist. The Supreme Court last month had requested the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to hear an earlier bail plea pending before the high court at the earliest.

Yesterday, the virtual court hearing was interrupted by technical glitches, following which the court today conducted physical hearing. 

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for petitioner Hemlata, had told the Court yesterday that the medical report of the team which was constituted as per courts order is a complete “eyewash”. 

Jaising today submitted before court that Rao has not been clinically investigated. She stated:

“Till today, you do not have neurological status. A video recording is not enough for this. And in that too, his neurological examination was not done. No clinical examination was done. The video meeting was for 15 minutes. There was no neurologist. The court permitted a clinical examination. His respiratory system shows no positive signs and his intake of food is compromised. Combined with his age and COVID, he needs monitoring. That cannot happen in Talojia Jail, there is nothing even for a sample analysis.”

Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakre (for Taloja Jail officials) submitted that he is being monitored in the hospital ward of the jail since August till date.

The court observed: “Let him be sent to Nanavati hospital for two weeks for all examinations. The petitioner is happy with the treatment. Ultimately there is a man on death bed, if he is 82 years and has serious diseases, they will come to court. Can the State say no then?”

On the previous hearing Jaising had submitted that the condition of the petitioner is deteriorating day by day. Jaising told the court: “Father Stan Swamy had called Senior Advocate Mihir Desai informing him that the condition of Rao is fast deteriorating. Please bear in mind that the scope of arguments is of fundamental rights of health and life of the accused.”

She had contended that the fundamental right of the health of the accused is not affected by virtue of being under trial. The petitioner further sought that he be put in Nanavati Hospital for his medical treatment from Taloja Jail.

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Jaising had expressed her apprehension that Rao will lose his life if he continues in jail and stated that if he dies in custody then it would amount to custodial death. She had stated: “He suffers from a neurological condition, he is bedridden, his catheter has not been changed for more than 40 days. If he loses his life in custody, it is custodial death. The State, NIA are duty bound to protect the life of people under trial. I am only seeking that he be transferred to Nanavati Hospital, and an independent medical investigation be called for, to chart out the further course of action for him. We are no experts in these matters.”

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