Elgar case: Varavara gets interim bail for 6 months




The Bombay High Court on Monday granted interim bail for six months on medical grounds to ailing poet and activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case.

The court said it could not be a “mute spectator” and permit 82-year-old Rao’s health condition to deteriorate in custody.

A bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale said there existed no doubt that given his current medical condition, Rao would face “acceleration and intensification of ailments” if he continued to remain in custody.

It noted that medical facilities at the Taloja prison’s hospital in neighbouring Navi Mumbai were inadequate.

Rao is currently admitted to Nanavati Hospital, a private medical facility in Mumbai.

He has been in custody since August 28, 2018, awaiting trial in the case, which is being probed by the National Investigation Agency. The bench granted bail to Rao for six months, while directing him to stay within the jurisdiction of the NIA court in the city during this period.

Rao will be discharged from the hospital depending on his health condition and then released on bail, as per the HC.

While granting Rao bail on medical grounds, the HC dismissed NIA’s argument that he was not entitled to relief on humanitarian grounds.

However, the court imposed a host of stringent conditions on his bail, including prohibiting him from establishing contact with his co-accused in
the case.

It also dismissed the Maharashtra government’s submission that after discharge from the Nanavati Hospital, Rao would be shifted to the prison ward of the state-run J J Hospital

in Mumbai.

 “We are of the opinion that this court, as a constitutional court, cannot be

a mute spectator to the undertrial (Rao) being sent to prison and then to government hospitals where his health deteriorates further.

“To be ultimately shifted to private super-speciality hospitals, upon intervention of courts…,” the HC said in its 92-page judgment.

The bench said given the material on record, it had concluded that sending Rao back to the Taloja central prison, where he was lodged as an undertrial before he was shifted to the Nanavati Hospital, would “certainly endanger his life” and breach his fundamental right to health and life.

The HC noted that in the past, Rao’s family had to approach court to get information on his health condition while in prison.

It also observed that while Rao continued to suffer from multiple ailments in the prison and even contracted the COVID infection, he was shifted to the Nanavati Hospital only after the HC’s intervention.

“The undertrial’s (Rao’s) repeated admissions to government facilities, which have proved to be inadequate (in the past), would lead to the undertrial or his relatives repeatedly approaching courts for appropriate directions for dealing with deterioration of his health if he is put back in custody,” the bench said.

“In the said process, possibility of casualty cannot be ruled out,” the court observed.

It said Rao’s medical reports in the past pointed out that he suffered from several serious and age-related ailments. Some of the reports had also mentioned symptoms of dementia.

Therefore, his family will be able to provide the best care for him, the court said.