The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the state government to provide copies of the latest medical reports of Sudha Bharadwaj, Anand Teltumbde and Vernon Gonsalves, accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, to their families, lawyers and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) before the next hearing on August 28. The court held the accused and their families had a right to know the status of their health and should be given the reports without any delay.
A division bench of Justices R D Dhanuka and V G Bisht was hearing interim bail plea by activist Sudha Bharadwaj, a co-accused in the case, on medical grounds and due to co-morbidities in view of Covid-19 outbreak in prisons. While Bhardwaj is lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla Women’s Jail, Teltumbde and Gonsalves are lodged at Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
On Tuesday, advocate Ragini Ahuja informed the court that 58-year-old Bharadwaj was susceptible to contract Covid-19 due to her ailments and overcrowding in the jail. Following previous directions of the court, the state government said it had on August 21 submitted the latest medical report of Bharadwaj. The court perused the report, which stated her health was stable and medical facilities would be provided, if required. However, Ahuja submitted the report was not provided to the petitioner’s family.
The court said the family of Bharadwaj had a right to know the status of her health and, therefore, it should be handed over to them immediately.
Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare told the court the report would be handed over to Bharadwaj’s lawyer by Tuesday evening.
The bench also heard a plea by activist Vernon Gonsalves (61) and Teltumbde (68) seeking Covid-19 tests and subsequent medical reports as they had been in close contact with co-inmate and co-accused Varavara Rao (80), who had tested positive for the virus on July 16.
After hearing the submissions, the court agreed that the accused and their families had a right to know about their health status and directed the state government to provide medical reports to them. It also asked the state to provide reports to probing agency NIA before August 28, when the case will be heard next.
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