The Bombay High Court on Monday allowed 81-year-old poet-activist Varavara Rao to furnish a temporary cash surety of Rs 50,000 for release on bail, PTI reported. Rao was granted interim bail last week on medical grounds for six months by the High Court, which asked him to furnish a bail bond of Rs 50,000 and two solvent sureties of the same amount.

However, as the process was taking time, Rao filed an application in the court seeking permission to furnish cash surety to ensure his release, PTI reported. On Monday, a division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale allowed his request and gave him time till April 5 to submit the two solvent sureties of the same amount.

Rao was arrested in 2018 along with several other activists and booked under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. The octogenarian, who suffers from multiple ailments, is currently recuperating at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital.

He was shifted to the hospital after the High Court on November 18 observed that he was “almost on his deathbed”. Since then, the court extended his stay in the hospital on December 15, December 21 and then on January 7. The National Investigation Agency has, however, maintained that he was fit to be shifted back to Taloja Jail, where he was lodged before being hospitalised.

The Bhima Koregaon case

Several activists and academics have been 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 the violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day. 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. A supplementary chargesheet was filed later in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Varavara 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.

The Centre transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020 after the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra, led by Devendra Fadnavis, was defeated.