A special Mumbai court on Saturday set 14 bail conditions for activist Varavara Rao, one of which prevent him from leaving the city without permission, Live Law reported.
Rao is one of 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.
The 83-year-old was arrested on August 28, 2018, from his home in Hyderabad. On August 10, the Supreme Court granted him bail on medical grounds. Rao had filed a plea seeking permanent bail because of his “advancing age and deteriorating health”.
In his plea, Rao had said that he suffers from neurological ailments, abdomen pain which could be due to umbilical hernia, and asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease.
On Saturday, Special Judge Rajesh Katariya pronounced the bail conditions for Rao. Apart from needing permission to leave the city, he has been banned from making statements for the media.
Rao also has to mark his attendance every fortnight through a WhatsApp video call and appear before the police station every three months, Live Law reported.
Rao also has to provide the address of his home and contact numbers of his three relatives and a person living with him. He is asked to attend proceedings before the trial court unless he is exempted from appearance. He cannot communicate with the co-accused in the case.
“He shall not make any call either domestic or international to any person indulging in similar activities through any mode of communication,” the court said. “He shall not tamper the prosecution witnesses either personally or through any other person.”
The court has also restricted the gathering of any visitors at his home in Mumbai and directed Rao to surrender his passport if not done earlier.
Rao’s bail application
On February 22, 2021, the Bombay High Court granted Rao bail on medical grounds and he was released from jail the following month.
Since last September, the High Court has been extending Rao’s date of surrender. The last such extension was granted in April for three months. However, the court refused to grant him permanent medical bail for treatment.
The activist then filed a plea in the Supreme Court, seeking permanent bail.
In his plea, Rao submitted that in the totality of circumstances, the trial in the case will take not less than 10 years.
The National Investigation Agency had opposed Rao’s plea in the Supreme Court.
Santosh Rastogi, inspector general of the central agency, had alleged that inquiry into the Bhima Koregaon case showed that Rao was actively pursuing the agenda of the banned outfit Communist Party of India (Maoist) to topple the democratically elected government of the country.
In June, Wired reported claims made by a United States-based cybersecurity company that the Pune Police hacked electronic devices owned by Rao, and his co-accused Rona Wilson and Hany Wilson in the