April 23, 2022 12:35:09 am
The Bombay High Court, while dismissing pleas filed by Elgaar Parishad case accused Varavara Rao, who had sought permanent medical bail and permission to shift to Hyderabad citing ill health and high expenses in Mumbai, has directed that corrective measures be adopted to improve conditions and medical facilities at state prisons.
While Justice Sunil B Shukre and Justice Govinda A Sanap passed the verdict on April 13, the copy of the judgment was made available on Friday.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, representing Rao, who was arrested in August 2018, had contended that Rao’s condition was worsening due to Parkinson’s and his health is incompatible with the environment of Taloja central jail.
“In our opinion, the submission advanced by Grover raising doubt about the clinical summary/opinion and medical papers is ill-founded. We have not come across iota of material to conclude that all the expert medical officers who have examined the accused have acted under the influence of NIA…,” the bench observed.
“…It is a matter of record that the clinical opinion is against the accused. It does not suit the purpose of the accused. Therefore, it is but natural for the accused to find the ways and means to wriggle out of this report. The accused has, therefore, blamed the doctors and NIA officials…,” it added.
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Grover had also told the HC that if Rao is sent back to Taloja jail, then his chances of his survival would be minimal without proper aid. The court noted that NIA had not made any comment on it and the state is also silent about the matter.
To this, the HC said, “…There may be deficiencies. However, silence on the part of the state could not be a ground to extend benefit to the accused. The court can take cognizance of the deficiencies pointed out and issue necessary directions to take steps to remove the deficiencies. This issue cannot be left unattended…”
The bench went on to pass various directions to the state inspector general (Prisons), including collection of information from Taloja jail and all prisons on the appointment of medical officers, nurses and other staffers as per the Maharashtra Prisons Hospital Rules, 1970, and to give his opinion on the same.
It further asked the IG (Prisons) to file a compliance report on the steps taken by April 30. The court also asked the department to ensure that henceforth “there should not be scope for prisoners to make a grievance about lack of medical facilities and timely medical aid”. The bench asked all principal district judges in the state to pay periodical visits to prisons and pay sufficient attention to the affairs of jails.
Observing that except cataract surgery, no other problem was found to be serious to accept Rao’s prayer seeking regular bail, the bench rejected the plea and extended his temporary medical bail for three months to undergo surgery.
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