Poet-activist Varavara Rao, who is in jail for over two years now, will not be released on bail, said the Bombay High Court on Tuesday as his family approached the court for the activist to be granted bail urgently citing his health condition.
The court has directed the government of Maharashtra and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to arrange for a video medical consultation by doctors and the doctors would visit him if needed.
The 80-year old activist’s lawyer Indira Jaising told the court that his health was fast deteriorating and he had dementia. She said, “He is bedridden. He is on diapers… Is this man going to run away from justice.”
The High Court directed that the medical consultation should take place either on Thursday or on early Friday morning and that the report should be submitted to the court on November 16.
The court said, “To assess the present condition of Varavara Rao, it will be appropriate to have a video medical examination. All parties agree that the video consultation can be arranged today or tomorrow morning by doctors of Nanavati Hospital who made the July 30 report.”
The Telugu poet-activist Varavara Rao, was arrested in January 2018 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima case where the police has claimed that provocative speeches were made at the Elgar Parishad conclave in Pune on 31 December 2017, leading to violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.
Rao has been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) which allows detention without trial for years. The bench, comprising of justices AK Menon and SP Tavade, was also hearing a writ petition filed by Rao’s wife, P Hemlatha.
Activist Varavara Rao is lodged at Taloja Jail near Mumbai along with another co-accused Stan Swamy. Stan had called lawyers and informed them that Rao was severely unwell, said Jaising.
The NIA, in its affidavit, has confirmed to the court that Rao’s health was not good and that the authorities at Taloja Jail were regularly checking his condition and providing all necessary treatment.
Indira Jaising told the court that the jail did not have the infrastructure of a super-specialty hospital to treat a person with the conditions that Varavara Rao suffered from and he needed to be with his family.
Jaising told the court, “I am seeking an urgent interim relief to shift Varavara Rao from Taloja jail to Nanavati Hospital. Ultimate relief I am seeking is that he be set at liberty as his rights are being violated.
“Condition of detention cannot be cruel, inhuman and degrading. But it is in the case of Rao. It is violating his rights under article 21 and 32 of the constitution. If he dies in jail it will be a case of custodial death.”
Varavara Rao and nine other activists have been charged under UAPA and are in jail in connection with the case.