Elgar Parishad case: Bombay HC reserves verdict on Varavara Rao’s bail pleas
The National Investigation Agency said charges against the activist were ‘very serious’ and could attract death penalty.
The Bombay High Court on Monday reserved its verdict on all three bail pleas filed by activist Varavara Rao in connection with the Elgar Parishad case, PTI reported.
The court also extended interim protection from any coercive action against Rao until the judgement is made, according to Live Law.
In three different petitions before the court, Rao had sought – an extension of the temporary bail granted to him in February 2021, a modification in his bail conditions allowing him to go back to Hyderabad, and permanent bail on medical grounds.
Rao is among the 16 activists who have been charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly conspiring to set off caste violence in a village near Pune in 2018.
The 82-year-old was granted bail on medical grounds in February last year. The court has been granting extensions on the bail order since September.
At Monday’s hearing, the court heard final arguments from Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared on behalf of the National Investigation Agency and Rao’s counsel Anand Grover.
Singh opposed Rao’s plea of permanent bail on medical grounds saying charges against the activist were “very serious” in nature.
“The offence is a very serious offence which concerns national security and if found guilty attracts the death penalty,” Singh said, according to Live Law.
Singh said that while Rao seemed to have been suffering from “old-age related issues”, the investigation agency was willing to give an undertaking that necessary medical aid would be provided to him in prison, or in a government hospital whenever required, PTI reported.
The additional solicitor general further said that a report on Rao’s health from a private hospital describes his condition as stable.
“We are not experts in the field of medicines,” he argued, according to Live Law. “Everything depends on what the doctors are saying. They haven’t said his condition is not stable.”
Meanwhile, Grover told the court that the activist was showing early signs of Parkinson’s disease.
“All is not hunky dory,” Grover told the court, according to PTI. “Rao’s clinical reports show he has early Parkinson’s and the road from here goes only downhill. There is a risk of a blood clot. Can we allow that? Either the NIA has not read that report or it doesn’t understand the seriousness of such risk.”
He also questioned the medical facilities at the Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai, where Rao was in custody before being granted bail.
“How will you manage or monitor this condition at Taloja where you don’t even have an allopathic doctor,” Grover argued.
Grover further told the court that living in Mumbai with his ailments was proving to be expensive for Rao, as he had been spending Rs 96,000 per month, according to Bar and Bench.
“If arrests can be made from across the country, why can he not report the NIA court in Hyderabad,” he argued. Rao lives in a rented apartment in Mumbai since he was granted bail.