- Apprentice Lawyer
The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed Nanavati Hospital, where Telugu writer-poet Varavara Rao is admitted, to produce a report on the status of his health in three days.
Rao is one of several accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
The Division Bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht passed the order today.
The High Court will decide on the question of whether or not the health report can be shared with Rao's family. The Hospital has also been asked by the Court to furnish details on the line of treatment being administered to Rao, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month. The Court said,
The Court was hearing two separate pleas, one of which had sought for immediate medical treatment to be given to Rao, whose medical condition was visibly worsening. The second plea challenged the order of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) Court that rejected his interim bail plea.
The Court was also told by Rao's family that he was almost on his "death bed". Thus, they had sought permission to visit him in the hospital from a reasonable distance. The Court had sought NIA's response to this request made by Rao's family on July 20.
Earlier, in its affidavit filed before the High Court, the NIA had opposed Rao's interim bail plea saying that the poet was taking "undue benefit" of his old age and the pandemic to seek bail. The agency claimed that he was not entitled to bail owing to the gravity of offences alleged against him.
Today, the Court was told by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the NIA, that Rao was being given all the medical assistance required in line with the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR).
As regards permission for Rao's family to visit him, Singh said that the agency was not opposed to the same, subject to permission from the Hospital, given that the ICMR has specific guidelines in relation to visitation permission for COVID-19 patients.
Accepting the NIA's submission, the Court allowed Rao's family to visit him subject to the Hospital's conditions. The Court said,
On the question of sharing of medical and health updates of Rao, NIA submitted that the information is not liable to be revealed owing to the ICMR guidelines to this effect. However, he stated that the agency was not opposed to sharing this information with Rao's family, if the same is done by the state government.
The state government, through Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, submitted before the Court that it is also not opposed to sharing Rao's medical updates with his family, should a direction to this effect from the Court bind the Hospital to do so.
The Court thus directed Nanavati Hospital to release Rao's report in three days. After examining this report, the Court will consider the issue of sharing it with Rao's family. In this regard, the order of the Court says,
The Court will hear the matter next on August 7. The bail plea filed by Rao will be considered by the Court after perusing his medical records.
The same Bench also heard a plea filed by two of Rao's co-accused, Vernon Gonsalves and Anand Teltumbde seeking to be tested for COVID-19. While Gonsalves has already undergone the test and found to be negative for the novel Coronavirus, the State would respond on Teltumbde's plea by July 31, the Court was told.
Read Order in cases concerning Varavara Rao:
Read Order on plea filed by Vernon Gonsalves and Anand Teltumbde: