Bhima Koregaon: Bombay High Court asks NIA, State if Varavara Rao's family can see him in the COVID-19 speciality hospital
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Bhima Koregaon: Bombay High Court asks NIA, State if Varavara Rao's family can see him in the COVID-19 speciality hospital

Rao's family had also sought transparent and regular updates to be given on Rao's health, submitting that most of the information as regards his medical condition was secured by his family only through secondary sources.

Shruti Mahajan

The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the State of Maharashtra and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to take instructions on the plea seeking permission for poet Varavara Rao's family to see him at the hospital from a reasonable distance.

Rao who was lodged in Taloja jail was taken to a medical facility last week after he had fallen ill. Subsequently, he tested positive for COVID-19 and as of now is admitted at the Nanavati Hospital of Mumbai, which is a COVID-19 speciality hospital.

The writer-poet suffers from other comorbidities. The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and SP Tavade was urged on Monday to expedite Rao's bail plea on the grounds that the undertrial may be on the verge of his death.

Moreover, Rao's wife has sought transparent and regular updates on Rao's health, submitting that all the information as regards his medical condition was secured by his family only through secondary sources. The only update on his health that the family received from the authorities was of Rao testing positive for the coronavirus, the Court was told.

It is averred by Rao's family that not sharing of any health updates and details of an undertrial who is judicial custody is "inhuman, unconstitutional, and illegal."

Therefore, the Court has sought a reply from the NIA and the State government as regards the request made by Rao's family on whether they can visit him at the hospital and from a reasonable distance. The family has urged for this permission on the grounds that should the poet succumb to the disease, at least he should pass in the presence of his family.

Rao had earlier sought interim bail from the Court on medical grounds stating that he apprehended contracting COVID-19 in the prison he was lodged in.

This plea was rejected by the Special NIA Court and that order was appealed against before the Bombay High Court. A separate plea was also filed by Rao seeking directions for the authorities to provide medical assistance to him in the wake of his worsening health conditions.

Before any of these two petitions could be taken up for hearing, Rao was taken to State-run JJ Hospital for medical check-up and was later found to be positive for COVID-19. On account of JJ Hospital not being a COVID-19 hospital, Rao was shifted to another speciality hospital.

The Court has sought a response from the NIA and State government by Wednesday.

The next date for hearing on the interim bail plea has been fixed for the following day, taking note of the submission that Rao's bail plea ought to be heard expeditiously in light of developments as regards his health.

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