Friday, September 29, 2023

Court orders video examination of poet-activist Varavara Rao to assess his health situation

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Senior Advocate Indira Jaising says that if Rao loses his life, it is custodial death, and the NIA is duty bound to take care of all under-trials

New Delhi (ILNS): Justices S. S. Shinde and Madhav J. Jamdar of the Bombay High Court today heard the bail application of poet-activist Dr Varavara Rao, seeking release on medical grounds and ordered a video examination to assess his health situation by a team of doctors.

Pendyala Hemlatha, the wife of 81-year-old poet- activist, had moved the court seeking his bail on medical grounds after 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.

Senior Advocate Indira Jaising appeared for the activist and submitted before the court 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 are of fundamental rights of health and life of the accused.”

She contended that 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.

Jaising 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. The petitioner 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.”

Jaising said: “The reason for rejecting his bail was that he is accused under the UAPA, he is a terrorist. There is a list of 25 matters wherein he is allegedly accused. Let me point out, barring 2, he has been acquitted in all.”

ASG Anil Singh told the court that Rao is receiving treatment from the Nanavati Hospital and JJ Hospital. “He was admitted to the hospital which is a super specialty hospital. Whenever the family wanted to see them, we let them meet them,” he added.

After the bench asked if a panel of doctors can see him, the Chief Public Prosecutor advocate Deepak Thakare proposed to get a team of doctors from Nanavati Hospital to assess his situation.

The court said that the doctors can decide if Rao can be moved, or suggest the further course of action.

However, Jaising maintained that there can be no substitute to a physical examination.

To this the court said: “Thakare ask Nanavati hospital if they can make a visit. There is merit in Jaising’s submission. How much can he answer on a video call?

“We propose that let there be a video call immediately, let them assess the situation. It is not any officer of the hospital, he should be a person who knows the patient and who was present during the July 30, 2020 report,” said the court order.

The court has posted the matter for further hearing on November 17.

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