Thursday, April 18, 2024

Move Division Bench for permission to undergo cataract surgery in Hyderabad: Bombay High Court to Varavara Rao

The High Court of Bombay has directed Telugu poet and activist P. Varavara Rao, who was arrested in 2018 under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, to approach a Division Bench for permission to travel to Hyderabad for cataract surgery. 

The Single-Judge Bench of Justice S.V. Kotwal observed on Monday that the application by Rao amounted to modification in his bail conditions, as per which Rao could not leave Mumbai during the trial.

The High Court said that in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the matter could only be heard by a Division Bench. The application will now be converted into an appeal and heard by the Division Bench led by Justice A.S. Gadkari.

Earlier on January 5, 2023, the Single-Judge Bench of Justice R.G. Avachat had issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Rao’s application seeking to quash the order of the special NIA court, which refused him leave to go to Hyderabad for the surgery. 

On August 10 last year, the Supreme Court had granted permanent medical bail to the 82-year-old activist, while rejecting the argument given by the National Investigative Agency (NIA) that age or medical condition cannot be a factor to let an UAPA accused out on bail.

Earlier during the hearing, NIA told the Apex Court that Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, should not be granted bail since he was ‘engaged’ in unlawful activities ‘against the Government of India’.

NIA had arrested on August 28, 2018 from his home in Hyderabad. He remained in custody for more than two years and was released after the Apex Court granted him bail in August last year.

The affidavit by NIA mentioned that Rao was ‘not merely associated or supported the Communist Party of India (Maoist), but was constantly fulfilling the agenda of the banned organisation’.

The Counsel representing NIA opposed bail to Rao on the grounds that the offence committed by the accused was against the interest of the country and the principles of Indian Constitution and therefore, there shall be no relief when the offence was against the state and public interest.

The agency further referred to a document of the banned organisation found during the probe, which was named ‘Strategy and tactics of Indian revolution’.

Later in August 2022, Special Judge Rajesh Katariya of NIA court in Mumbai directed Rao to follow 12 bail conditions, which were laid down for him. These were:

 a. He shall furnish fresh P.R. Bond of Rs.50,000/- with two solvent sureties. In case of earlier sureties are to be continued, he shall furnish fresh documents and sureties have to remain present for verification afresh.

b. He will have to reside within the area of Greater Mumbai and shall not leave Mumbai without prior permission of the Court.

c. He will have to furnish detailed address of his residence & contact numbers of his 3 close relatives and person residing with him.

d. He will have to attend the trial court proceedings unless exemption from personal appearance is allowed.

e. He will have to report to the nearest Police Station once in a period of 3 months physically and through Whatsapp Video Call fortnightly.

f. He is not allowed to make any statement in regard to the matter in any form of media i.e. print media, electronic media, social media, etc.

g. He shall not commit any other offence either of similar or any other nature.

h. He shall not indulge in any activity regarding which present crime is registered against the applicant.

i. He shall not communicate with co-accused or any other person involved in similar activities.

j. He shall not make any call either domestic or international to any person indulging in similar activity through any medium.

k. He shall not tamper the prosecution witnesses either personally or through someone.

l. He shall not abscond or try to flee away from justice.

m. He shall not be allowed to have any gathering of visitors where he resides

n. He will have to surrender his passport before this Court if not surrendered yet.


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