The Bombay High Court on Monday extended Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao’s stay at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai till January 7, 2021, reported Bar and Bench. Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been at the private medical facility since mid-November.
A bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik adjourned the hearing on his bail plea, seeking release on medical grounds, till January 7. The court directed the Maharashtra government to submit a fresh medical report detailing Rao’s health condition on the next date of hearing.
The Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency urged the court to transfer Rao from Nanavati Hospital to the Taloja Jail hospital or to the state-run JJ Hospital. But, the court put the request on hold and said it has to first go through his medical reports.
“We find it difficult to discharge him [Rao] from Nanavati [hospital] and transfer him to Taloja Jail,” the judges said. “We cannot transfer him today. In the next hearing may be. We haven’t seen his fresh report. We cannot rely on the previous report.”
During the hearing, Rao’s counsel Anand Grover informed the court that the poet’s health was improving. He, however, added that the activist’s blood pressure was still fluctuating. The counsel also conveyed to the court that Rao’s family was satisfied with the treatment at Nanavati Hospital.
On December 15, the NIA had told the Bombay High Court that Rao was “fit enough” to be shifted back to the Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai. But, the court had allowed Rao to stay in Nanavati Hospital till December 21.
Rao was shifted to the the Nanavati Hospital after the High Court observed on November 18 that he was “almost on deathbed”. It had ruled that Rao should not be discharged from the hospital without informing the court, and that his family should be allowed to meet him at the hospital.
“A person was on death bed and in such circumstances the state government cannot say that he should be treated in the jail,” the court had said. Following this, the Maharashtra government had agreed to shift Rao from Taloja prison to the Nanavati Hospital and bore the expenses of his treatment.
On December 3, the Bombay High Court had noted that the condition of Rao has improved, but said that he will continue to remain at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital till December 14.
Rao was taken into custody for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon case on November 17, 2018, after spending days under house arrest. He is accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered violence between Maratha and Dalit groups near Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.
Since his arrest, Rao has been in and out of hospitals, owing to his poor health. On July 16 this year, the activist had tested positive for coronavirus, after which he was shifted to Nanavati Hospital. He was discharged following a final assessment report on July 30 and sent back to the Taloja prison.