January 21, 2021 9:20:02 pm
PRISON AUTHORITIES told the Bombay High Court on Thursday that Telugu poet Varavara Rao, who is an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, can be moved to the prison ward of the state-run JJ Hospital. The state government also submitted that Rao’s family members will be allowed to visit him based on hospital protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic.
A division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by Rao’s wife Pendyala Hemalatha, seeking his release on bail on the grounds of poor health from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
On Wednesday, National Investigation Agency (NIA) assured the HC that facilities to protect prisoners from various ailments and diseases have improved and, hence, there was no harm in moving Rao to Taloja jail hospital from Nanavati hospital in Mumbai.
The HC directed Rao’s counsel to file an affidavit on the facilities not available at Taloja jail hospital on the basis of which Rao requires medical bail, so that the bench can verify the claims with authorities before deciding on the plea.
The NIA objected to the affidavit filed by the petitioner stating that it was based on inputs from Rao’s co-accused, who are currently lodged at Taloja, and stated that information regarding facilities available should be Rao’s words and not his fellow inmates or family member.
Senior Counsel Indira Jaising, representing the petitioner, submitted that as Rao is old and has an underlying medical condition, which could be life threatening if not kept under control, the court could grant him bail.
She further added that though Rao was an accused and imprisoned, that did not mean that he had to forgo his fundamental rights to life of dignity and health.
When the bench inquired with Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, representing the state government, he responded, “As has fallen from the court to argue on human grounds, and what has come from the court, subject to the arguments by NIA, I have been instructed to make this submission. Rao will be shifted to the prison ward in JJ hospital. And he will be given all care.”
Thakare added, “His (Rao) family members will be allowed to visit subject to protocols, and the treatment given in Nanavati hospital will continue.”
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing NIA, will begin his arguments on the plea at the next hearing on January 27.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines