With Rao’s lawyer arguing that he must be shifted to Nanavati Hospital for interim relief, the court said that a medical evaluation must be done to decide if shifting is necessary.

Poet Varavara Rao with his left hand on his face against a backdrop of colourful paintings of children File Photo
news Court Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 17:43

Poet Varavara Rao will continue to remain imprisoned, even after the latest hearing of his bail petition in the Bombay High Court on Thursday. His wife, Hemalatha, had filed a bail plea in the Bombay HC seeking his release on medical grounds. With the latest medical report available being more than three months old, the court has directed that a video medical examination be arranged, to decide if it is necessary to shift him to the hospital. Writer and activist Varavara Rao, who is 81, has been imprisoned in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case for more than two years without a trial.

Appearing for Varavara Rao and his wife Hemalatha, senior advocate Indira Jaising, said that the latest medical report available on his health — prepared by doctors of Nanavati Hospital on July 30 — found that Rao had “dementia and mental unawareness”. The High Court bench hearing the plea said that to evaluate his present health condition, a video consultation must be arranged on Thursday or Friday, by doctors of Nanavati Hospital who had prepared the previous report from July. 

“To assess the present condition of Varavara Rao, it will be appropriate to have a video medical examination. All parties agree that video consultation can be arranged today or tomorrow morning by doctors of Nanavati Hospital who made the July 30 report,” the HC order said according to LiveLaw. If the doctors feel a video examination is not possible, and a physical examination is necessary, they can visit Taloja jail to examine Rao “at their earlier convenience,” the court ordered. 

Earlier in October, Hemalatha had approached the Supreme Court seeking the release of her husband. The SC had asked Bombay HC to expeditiously consider hearing the bail plea, which had not been heard by the High Court since September 17. 

On Thursday, a division bench of Justices AK Menon and SP Tavade heard the plea. Rao’s lawyer Indira Jaising said that his health is fast deteriorating. She said that he has dementia, is bed-ridden, and has developed a serious urinary tract infection. Arguing that the neglect of the jail authorities has contributed to the situation of Varavara Rao, Jaising sought urgent interim relief to shift Rao to Nanavati Hospital. She also sought the constitution of an independent medical board to evaluate his health and make a decision over his final relief. 

With Jaising submitting that the latest medical report available is that of July 30, the HC bench observed that constituting a medical board will take time, and medical examination must be done by doctors of Nanavati Hospital to ascertain if it is necessary to shift him to the hospital. 

The bench reportedly asked “what is the harm if a panel of doctors from Nanavati examines Varavara Rao in video rather than shifting him on a knee-jerk reaction.” The matter has been posted to November 17. 

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