The family of the 81-year-old poet had moved the Supreme Court to grant bail on medical grounds, saying he was bed-ridden in prison.

Close up of Varavara Rao in a blue shirt smiling and looking into the camera with a shelf of books blurred in the backgroundFile Photo
news Court Thursday, October 29, 2020 - 14:01

The Supreme Court on Thursday refused to grant bail for revolutionary poet Varavara Rao, who has been imprisoned in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case. The writer’s wife, Pendyala Hemalatha, had moved the SC for his bail earlier this month. She urged the court that the 81-year-old writer must be released on temporary medical bail, and be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family. 

Appearing on behalf of Varavara Rao, senior advocate Indira Jaising told the SC bench hearing Hemalatha’s plea that denying him bail is a violation of his right to health, LiveLaw reported. 

However, the SC has said that the matter of bail is pending before the Bombay High Court. Questioning why the matter is not being listed before the High Court, the SC bench directed the Bombay HC to expedite the listing of the appeal, owing to Varavara Rao’s medical condition.

Read: SC asks Bombay HC to expeditiously consider Varavara Rao's bail plea

Hemalatha’s plea had sought Varavara Rao’s immediate release on the grounds that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution (life or personal liberty) and also violating his right to dignity in custody. The plea also stated that the writer had lost a lot of weight, and is "basically bed-ridden" as he is suffering from multiple health complications. 

The poet had earlier been admitted to the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai and was undergoing treatment for COVID-19 and other ailments. He was discharged in August and sent back to the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai. 

Varavara Rao and many other activists were arrested during the course of investigation of the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Police have alleged that the violence was caused by provocative speeches made at an Elgar Parishad event by activists of the Kabir Kala Manch. Authorities said that the event promoted enmity between various caste groups and led to violence, resulting in loss of life and property and a statewide agitation in Maharashtra.

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