Poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, was granted bail extension till December 20 by the Bombay High Court on Friday, Live Law reported.
The Bhima Koregaon case pertains to caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018. Rao was among 16 people who were arrested for allegedly plotting the violence.
The High Court had granted interim medical bail to Rao for six months on February 22. It had earlier extended his date of surrender six times after the bail period ended on September 5. The last such extension allowed Rao to stay outside jail till December 6.
On Friday, the court allowed the extension of bail after Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital said it would require two weeks to conduct a detailed medical exam of the poet.
Hospital’s Assistant General Manager Apoorva Shrivastava told the court that Rao needs to be examined by a neurologist, nephrologist and psychiatrist.
The court has requested the schedule of Rao’s tests, which also has to be submitted to the National Investigation Agency. It asked the hospital to conduct the tests by December 16 and scheduled the next hearing on December 17.
The investigating agency had failed to get Rao medically examined at Mumbai’s Nanavati hospital in compliance with an order from the court on November 18. It had sought more time to submit his reports to the court.
However, the investigation agency did not submit the reports even on Friday, which Rao’s counsel, Anand Grover, said was a “very serious” matter, The Indian Express reported.
Advocate Sandesh Patil, representing the National Investigation Agency, objected to Grover’s statement and said that Nanavati Hospital had requested for more time to examine Rao’s ailments.
The National Investigation Agency has been opposed to Rao’s petition, claiming that his medical reports did not mention any “major ailment”, which would need an extension of bail.
In his petition, Rao had noted that he suffers from lacunar infarcts (a neurological condition) due to arterial blockages in the brain. The plea said that the poet has other pre-existing neurological conditions as well.
The Bhima Koregaon case
The National Investigation Agency has alleged that Rao and 15 others were part of a conspiracy to incite violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial near Pune on January 1, 2018. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, and Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018.
The police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
One of the accused, 84-year-old tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, died in custody in July. Swamy, who suffered from Parkinson’s disease and also contracted the coronavirus infection while in prison, was repeatedly denied bail despite his deteriorating health condition.
Currently, 14 activists and academicians are in custody in connection with the case. They have been jailed under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act in the case without any reliable evidence.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.
The accused were charged with “waging war against the nation” and spreading the ideology of the CPI (Maoist), besides creating caste conflicts and hatred in the society.