In a relief to Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, the Bombay High Court on Monday directed the state government to allow him to speak to his family on video call as per hospital protocols. The HC also directed the court registry to provide Rao’s medical report — prepared by Nanavati Hospital — to his family and the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
Rao was shifted to Nanavati hospital on July 19 for neurological and urological treatment. Before that he had been undergoing treatment at the state-run St George Hospital since July 16 after testing positive for Covid-19.
Justice A A Sayed and Justice Abhay Ahuja was hearing an appeal filed by Rao against an order of the special NIA court rejecting his bail application on medical grounds.
Advocate R Sathyanarayanan, appearing for Rao, told the court that his family was concerned about his well-being, as they had no information about his health status since he was shifted to Nanavati hospital.
The HC had on July 28 directed the Nanavati Super-Specialty Hospital at Vile Parle to submit a health report to Rao, within three days from the time the hospital received communication on the court’s order. Last week, another bench had taken Rao’s medical report on record.
As the court took up the report on Monday, Sathyanarayanan said Rao’s family was unaware of his health condition and thus had sought a copy of the report from the court. He could also make his arguments on the bail plea based on it, the advocate added.
The HC sought to know the current status of Rao’s health, as the report was nearly two weeks old. It also directed the state to allow the family to interact with Rao through video calling facilities as per hospital protocols.
While directing the court registry to provide a copy of the medical report submitted by Nanavati hospital to Rao and the NIA, the HC posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks.
The court, meanwhile, also heard an interim bail plea filed by activist Sudha Bharadwaj — a co-accused in the case — on medical grounds in view of Covid-19 outbreak in prisons.
Though the state and NIA opposed Bharadwaj’s plea, the bench sought to know from the jail superintendent what steps are being taken to safeguard inmates from the virus. It also sought Bharadwaj’s latest medical report and posted the matter for hearing after a week.
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