HC allows jailed poet Varavara Rao to be moved to hospital for treatment

Asks the Maharashtra government to bear expenses of his treatment; 80-year-old is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case and is lodged at Taloja central jail in Mumbai

Rao’s bail plea stated that he was in bad health owing to his "diminishing neurological and physical health condition".

Telugu writer-poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, can seek treatment at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai for 15 days, the Bombay High Court (HC) ruled on Wednesday on a petition filed by his wife P Hemalatha.

Rao, 80, is currently lodged at the Taloja central jail. The HC division bench of justices S S Shinde and Madhav Jamdar asked the Maharashtra government to bear the expenses for Rao’s treatment and gave permission to his family to meet him while in hospital.

Rao’s bail plea stated that he was in bad health owing to his “diminishing neurological and physical health condition”. In July, Rao was admitted to Nanavati Hospital where he had undergone treatment for COVID-19. Rao’s lawyer, Indira Jaising, was quoted by Live Law as saying, “His capability for the intake of food is compromised. His monitoring can only happen in a super specialty hospital and not in Taloja jail.”

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The HC also said Rao cannot be discharged from the hospital without informing the court. This was necessitated after Jaising informed the court that at the time of Rao’s discharge from Nanavati Hospital in July, the family members or the court were not informed about it and the discharge report from that time detailing his medical condition was also not made available.

Rao was medically examined last week on the High Court’s directives. However, Jaising told the court on Wednesday that he was not examined by a neurologist or a urologist and was instead provided only a 15-minute teleconsultation from jail.

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On Jaising’s contention, chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare said that Rao’s health was being monitored in the hospital ward of the jail. Jaising said that considering Rao has recently recovered from COVID-19 and his old age and other comorbidities, he requires monitoring, which cannot happen at the prison.

The High Court accepted Jaising’s contention and said that Rao be shifted to Nanavati Hospital immediately.

The case will now be heard on December 3.

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