Updated: July 14, 2020 7:31:20 am
Varavara Rao, the 80-year old Telugu poet-litterateur and activist who is behind bars since 2018 in the Elgaar Parishad case, was taken to state-run JJ hospital on Monday for a few tests after he complained of dizziness.
This comes after last week, Rao moved the Bombay High Court against a June 26 order of the special NIA court in Mumbai rejecting his interim bail plea on medical grounds. Last Friday, the court had issued notices to the NIA and Maharashtra government seeking their response to the plea by July 17 — the next date of hearing.
Dr Ranjit Mankeshwar, the JJ hospital dean, said, “We will run a few tests and decide whether to hospitalise him.”
Rao’s family had demanded that he be shifted to a hospital from the Tajola Central Jail in Navi Mumbai after receiving a call from him on July 11. The family told mediaperons on Sunday said that during the phone call, Rao was unable to speak coherently and spoke about events that had taken place decades ago. His co-inmates have informed the family that he had been unable to do any of his chores by himself, and was dependent on others in the hospital ward where he was being kept.
On Monday, his lawyers moved an urgent praecipe before the HC stating that his appeal against the special NIA court rejecting his interim bail plea be heard on Tuesday, instead of July 17. Advocate R Sathyanarayanan, representing Rao, also said the jail authorities did not conduct medical check-ups as suggested by JJ hospital and sought action against the errant officials.
Editorial| A case for bail
The writ plea sought direction from the court to the authorities to produce Rao’s medical reports and a report on the course of medical action adopted after June 2 while complying with what JJ hospital had proposed. It also sought directions to the authorities to send Rao for a medical check-up immediately and submit the latest report, and if necessary, send him to a private hospital at his expense.
In his plea filed before HC last week, Rao had sought interim bail citing ill health and susceptibility to Covid-19 and the setting aside of the NIA court order. The NIA court had also rejected the interim bail plea of other co-accused in the case — former professor Shoma Sen and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj.
The NIA, which had taken over the probe from the Pune Police earlier this year, had opposed the pleas stating that since the accused have been charged under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), there was no provision to grant them temporary bail. It had submitted that jail authorities can be directed to ensure proper medical attention and that steps were being taken follow isolation and quarantine rules within the jail to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Dr Anand Teltumbde, also arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case, approached a special court on Monday seeking default bail on the ground that NIA had failed to file a chargesheet against him within 90 days of his arrest.
Teltumbde was arrested on April 14 after the Supreme Court directed him to surrender before the NIA. However, the agency had sought an extension up to 180 days to file a chargesheet under the UAPA and the special court had allowed the plea. Teltumbde’s plea stated that he intended to appeal against the court order and since the chargesheet has not been not filed, he should be released.
A similar plea filed by activist Gautam Navlakha, an accused in the case and arrested on the same day as Teltumbde, was rejected by a special court on Sunday.
Eleven persons were booked in the Elgaar Parishad case on charges that they were part of a criminal conspiracy to organise the event in Pune on December 29, 2017, which has been linked to the assault on Dalits at Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018. The Pune Police, from whom the NIA took over the case earlier this year, had claimed that the accused had links with the banned CPI (Maoists).
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