Varavara Rao’s stay in Nanavati Hospital extended by Bombay HC

Varavara Rao’s lawyers argued that he would get sick again if he was moved back to jail.
Varavara Rao addressing a gathering
Varavara Rao addressing a gathering
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The Bombay High Court on Tuesday extended the stay of jailed poet Varavara Rao in Nanavati Hospital until further orders. They reiterated that the state will continue to bear the hospital expenses. In the previous hearing, the High Court ordered the stay of Rao in the hospital till December 14, until he recovers fully.

On Tuesday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh told the court that Rao, who has been availing treatment in the private hospital since November 18, can be discharged.

Rao, accused of inciting violence in the Bhima Koregaon case, has several health complications including dementia and urinary infection, for which his wife Pendyala Hemalatha has been seeking bail under medical grounds. He was earlier tested positive for coronavirus too.

When Justice Shinde indicated that they are ready to hear the bail, the ASG opposed it saying that Rao’s wife had filed temporary bail in Sessions Court, which was not granted. And to avail the bail, they should again appear before the Sessions Court, Bar&Bench reported. 

The court however maintained that they have powers under Article 226 to issue interim bail and cited the case of Republic TV’s Editor-in-Chief and Managing Director Arnab Goswami, in which the Supreme Court upheld his right to bail. Article 226 empowers the high courts to issue to any person or authority, including the government (in appropriate cases), directions, orders or writs, including writs in the nature of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition, quo warranto, certiorari or any of them.

“The Supreme Court in Goswami's judgment has also held that the High Court has wide powers under Art. 226. Now it has been made clear by the SC that interim bail can be granted under article 226 which was earlier a grey area,” the court was quoted as saying by Bar&Bench.  

Subsequently, the court asked the ASG to allow the petitioners to begin their submissions for the bail plea.

Senior advocate Anand Grover appearing for Rao, said that the health of Rao did not get better. He alleged that Nanavati Hospital report is “deficient” in many areas and is “conspicuously silent” on a number of issues, LiveLaw reported. Grover argued that Rao would get sick again if he was shifted back to the jail.

The court then asked the status of the case, for which Grover said that the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is yet to frame charges against his client. He argued that the NIA will not frame charges anytime soon. “We have asked for a copy of the hard disk and till now we have not got it, so there is no question of charges being framed anytime soon. Maybe late 2021, charges will be framed, trials take so much time,” Grover was quoted as saying by LiveLaw.

Rao’s lawyers, Grover and Indira Jaising submitted that they wanted to meet Rao, for which the court responded that they would consider the plea.

The hearing was adjourned for December 21. The court concluded the hearing saying that Rao should not be shifted to jail without their notice.  

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