Varavara Rao’s wife Hemalatha approaches SC seeking bail for jailed poet

Hemalatha said in her plea, that Rao had lost about 18 kg and was suffering from various health issues and was bed-ridden.
File photo of Varavara Rao while delivering a speech
File photo of Varavara Rao while delivering a speech
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The wife of Telugu poet and revolutionary writer Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, moved the Supreme Court on Thursday seeking bail for him, claiming that his continued custody amounted to cruel and inhuman treatment. The petition, filed by Pendyala Hemalatha, urged the court that during the pendency of the petition, the 81-year-old accused should be released on temporary medical bail and be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family and loved ones.

It sought immediate release of Rao on the ground that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution (life or personal liberty) and violative of his right to dignity in custody. The plea said that he has lost about 18 kg and is suffering from various health issues and is "basically bed-ridden".

The plea said, “The health condition of the petitioner's husband is very feeble and he suffers from various comorbidities. It is submitted that COVID-19 patients do not have similar symptoms. It is further known that COVID-19 hampers all organs including neurological, and every patient displays different symptoms. When the petitioner's husband was arrested on August 28, 2018, he had no neurological problems. It is therefore highly likely that COVID-19 and the fall that he had in St. George Hospital has led to neurological problems as reflected in the medical report filed by Nanavati Hospital dated July 30.”

The petition, filed by advocate Sunil Fernandes, said that considering his health condition, the patient would require close monitoring. Earlier when he was discharged, he was advised to undergo a sodium test, which apparently had not been done by jail authorities, the petition said.

It further added that when Rao was hospitalized on May 27, he was hurriedly discharged in June while his bail plea on the ground of his medical condition was pending. The petition claimed that this was done only to avoid judicial determination of his bail on medical grounds.

Due to lack of bowel and urine control, Rao has a catheter urine bag and has to use diapers and is being given swab baths by the co-accused as he is basically bed-ridden, the petition said, adding that Rao's mental status is also not sound. It added that at the time Rao was sent to judicial custody in November 2018, he weighed around 68 kg and his weight is now around 50 kg, which shows drastic weight loss. 

Rao and other activists were arrested in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, which pertains to provocative speeches allegedly made during the Elgar Parishad organised by activists of the Kabir Kala Manch in Maharashtra's Pune on December 31, 2017. 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.

With IANS inputs


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