81-year-old, poet-activist, Varavara Rao has been allowed to be shifted to Mumbai’s Nanavati hospital, following an intervention by the bench of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar owing to his deteriorating neurological and physical health conditions.
Senior advocate, Indira Jaising, who appeared on behalf of Mr. Rao’s family, had argued that he sustained head injuries at the government-run JJ hospital, where he also tested positive for Coronavirus. “He (Varavara Rao) is completely bed-ridden and has no medical attendant. He is in diapers and has a catheter. The catheter was not changed for three months, as there was no one to change it,” she added.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, appearing for the National Investigative Agency told the bench that JJ hospital has enough facilities for the required treatment. He also said that shifting him would set a wrong precedent for other prisoners.
Citing the compromise of Rao’s prisoner rights, Ms. Jaising added, “There is a reasonable apprehension that he will die in custody.” She further told the court, “I am alleging negligence on part of the state. If the state is unable to look after him, he needs to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital,”
Earlier the court had directed officials from Nanavati Hospital to review Rao on video conferencing and visit him if necessary. However, Ms. Jaising requested expert treatment of his neurological problems and urinary infection
Taking note of the critical health conditions of Rao, the Bombay High court directed him to be shifted from the private hospital for 15 days for a thorough check-up. The court also allowed the family members to meet the ailing activist following the hospital norms. The court also directed that the expense of Rao’s treatment will be borne by the state.
State Counsel Deepak Thackeray told the court following the instructions from Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh, that the state had no objection to shifting Varavara Rao to Nanavati Hospital. However, Mr. Thackeray added, “This is not to be treated as a precedent but as a special case.”
Bombay HC has now directed that the reports should be submitted to the court after a thorough check-up and that Rao should not be discharged without informing the court. The bail plea will now be heard on December 9.
Varavara Rao has been under trial along with nine other activists for allegedly plotting violence and raising provocative speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017 along with Maoists. The event is seen as incendiary to the violence that followed in the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial a day after.