The Bombay High Court sought the responses of the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and Maharashtra government on whether the family members of poet and activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgaar Parishad case, can see or visit him from a reasonable distance in view of the 80-year-old’s critical condition.
Rao was shifted to Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital on Sunday for neurological and urological treatment. He was undergoing treatment at the state-run St George Hospital in south Mumbai since Thursday after testing positive for Covid-19. During treatment for COVID, doctors found his condition to be stable but also observed he had neurological problems.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and SP Tavade was hearing his writ petition that stated jail authorities did not conduct medical check-ups as suggested by state-run JJ hospital in Mumbai and sought action against the errant officials. The bench also heard Rao’s appeal against special court rejecting his interim bail.
The writ plea, filed last Monday, had sought direction from the court to the authorities to produce Rao’s medical reports and a report on the medical action taken 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 for advance check-ups.
On Monday, advocate Sudeep Pasbola referred to news reports and said that Rao’s condition was extremely critical. Pasbola said that Rao’s wife had filed an affidavit last week requesting permission to see him. If granted bail, his family members can take his care, Pasbola said.
However, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for NIA said that Rao was shifted to Nanavati Hospital, which has the best possible treatment facilities in Mumbai, and proper care was being taken as per Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines.
The Court observed that Rao was shifted to Nanavati hospital as ‘prima facie’ he was facing severe health conditions.
A bench led by Justice Shinde said that while the court did not doubt bonafide of NIA’s arguments, it directed the authorities to apprise it on the medical report of Rao “keeping in view Rao’s existing conditions”.
ASG Singh submitted that as per existing protocols, no such visits to Covid-19 patients were allowed. However, he would take instructions if the same could be facilitated.
The Court said that it would not pass orders on merits of the bail plea at this stage and sought responses from authorities. The court will hear the plea next on Thursday, July 23.
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