The Supreme Court on Tuesday issued a notice to the National Investigation Agency in connection with a plea filed by activist Varavara Rao seeking permanent bail on medical grounds, PTI reported.

A bench headed by Justices UU Lalit, Ravindra Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia also extended Rao’s interim bail till further orders.

The court said the matter would be heard for the final time on August 10, according to Live Law.

“Considering the nature of controversy of the matter, the matter shall be disposed of in the next occasion,” the bench said. “Since we had not issued notice earlier, issue notice [to NIA], returnable on August 10, 2022.”

Rao, 83, 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 Bhima Koregaon village near Pune in 2018.

He was arrested on August 28, 2018, from his home in Hyderabad. On February 22 last year, the Bombay High Court granted him bail on medical grounds and he was released from jail on March 6, 2021.

Since September, the High Court has been extending Rao’s date of surrender. However, it has refused to grant him permanent medical bail for treatment.

In his plea before the Supreme Court, filed through advocate Nupur Kumar, Rao said that any further incarceration “would ring the death knell for him as advancing age and deteriorating health are a fatal combination”.

Rao said that he suffers from neurological ailments, abdomen pain which could be due to umbilical hernia and asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease. He also needs to be operated for cataracts in both eyes.

He also submitted that in the totality of circumstances, the trial in the case will take not less than 10 years.

On June 16, a United States-based cybersecurity company had claimed that the Pune Police hacked electronic devices owned by Rao, and his co-accused Rona Wilson and Hany Wilson in the case.

In February 2021, a United States-based digital forensics company, Arsenal Consulting, had also claimed that an attacker had used malware to infiltrate Wilson’s laptop and deposited at least 10 incriminating letters on it.

In February this year, California-based cybersecurity company SentinelOne had claimed that Wilson had been targeted by two separate groups of hackers before he was arrested in June 2018.