The Bombay High Court added that the 81-year-old poet’s family should be allowed to visit him at the hospital.

Poet Varavara Rao being taken into custodyFile image: PTI
news Judiciary Wednesday, November 18, 2020 - 14:52

Jailed poet Varavara Rao will be shifted out of Taloja Jail and will be admitted to Nanavati Hospital for 15 days, ordered the Bombay High Court on Wednesday, with the bench observing that the 81-year-old is “almost on his deathbed.” The bench also ordered that the poet should not be discharged without informing the court and that family members should be allowed to meet him at the hospital. The court added that the State will bear the expenses for his treatment at Nanavati hospital.

The High Court was hearing two cases - a petition seeking his bail on medical grounds and a writ petition filed by his wife Hemalatha seeking his release on the grounds that his incarceration is a violation of his fundamental right to life and health.  

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appearing for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said that Rao be shifted to JJ Hospital, a government facility instead of the private Nanavati Hospital, and that the poet's case would set a ‘bad precedent’. However, the bench comprising SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar observed that Varavara Rao has serious ailments and agreed with advocate Indira Jaising, who was representing Varavara, that a proper medical examination will not be possible over video. Justice Shinde observed, “Ultimately, the man is ultimately on death bed. He needs some treatment.” 

Indira Jising had submitted to the court that experts are not being consulted for Varavara’s treatment and alleged negligence on the part of the state. She further added that there is a reasonable apprehension that he (Varavara Rao) will die in custody. Jaising said, “Death is inevitable. But everyone wants to exit in a dignified manner.”

Indira Jaising had on Tuesday submitted that Varavara Rao suffers from dementia and a urinary tract infection. However, a neurologist and a urologist did not examine the poet despite his condition. Jaising had called the medical report that was submitted on Tuesday “an eyewash”. 

Directing that Varavara be shifted to Nanavati, the court then said it will hear the bail petition further on December 3.

The 81-year-old poet has been imprisoned since August 2018 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence and with the alleged plot to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. 

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