- Apprentice Lawyer
Writer-poet and activist Varavara Rao has moved the Bombay High Court seeking directions to the prison authorities to allow him an immediate medical check-up in light of his deteriorating health condition.
Rao, who has been incarcerated since 2018 in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case, has been ill while inside the jail and has not been provided appropriate medical assistance, it is averred in his plea.
The octogenarian’s ill-health has come to light after his family held a press conference calling for his release on medical grounds.
Rao had to be rushed to JJ Hospital after he fell unconscious inside the jail on June 2. The hospital had made a prescription as regards assistance to Rao. The fresh writ petition filed today on behalf of the octogenarian also avers that the authorities have not conducted medical check-ups for Rao, as advised by JJ Hospital in June.
The plea seeks directions for the concerned authorities to produce Rao’s complete medical records and reports along with the action taken and course of action followed by the authorities in line with the hospital’s prescription dated June 2.
An immediate action to send Rao for a medical check-up in light of his visibly deteriorating health condition is also sought.
Earlier, Rao had moved the Bombay High Court seeking interim bail on medical grounds. In doing so, he challenged the decision of the Special NIA Court which, in June, had rejected his bail plea.
Rao, whose is lodged in Mumbai’s Taloja Central jail, has cited his old age and susceptibility to COVID-19 as grounds to seek interim bail in the case. This plea for interim bail was opposed by the NIA on the grounds that Rao, like his co-accused, is charged under provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and therefore, is not entitled to interim bail due to the gravity of the offences alleged.
Rao’s appeal against the order of the Special NIA Court was scheduled to be heard by the High Court on July 17. However, in the wake of his worrying health status, his lawyers moved an urgent praecipe on Sunday and prayed for the appeal against the NIA Court’s order to be heard on Tuesday, July 14.
This appeal, along with the fresh writ petition filed on Monday highlighting Rao's worsening condition, are both expected to be heard by the High Court this week.
Rao’s petition is filed through Advocates R Sathyanarayanan and Suzanne Abraham.
Rao is among several activists, academicians, lawyers, professors and writers whose residences were raided by the Pune Police in 2018. Rao, along with his co-accused, is charged under provisions of the UAPA allegedly for being involved in a criminal conspiracy which led to caste-based clashes and riots in Pune on January 1, 2018 after the 200th commemoration function of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. The allegations say that this celebration was backed and organized by banned organizations.
Earlier this year, the probe in the case was transferred from the Pune Police to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). This transfer of probe was recently challenged before the Bombay High Court by two of the accused in the case, Sudhir Dhawale and Surendra Gadling.