Updated: January 28, 2021 8:32:41 am
The National Investigation Agency (NIA) reiterated in the Bombay High Court the state government’s proposal to shift octogenarian Telugu poet and Elgaar Parishad accused P Varavara Rao to the prison ward of JJ Hospital arguing that the Nanavati hospital report said Rao was fit to be discharged and could take care of himself.
The NIA was opposing the petition filed by Rao’s wife P Hemalatha seeking bail on medical grounds. Rao’s counsel submitted that shifting Rao to Sir JJ Hospital could result in a relapse and hence the option was to either send Rao to Taloja jail if he was deemed fit or to his home in Hyderabad.
A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale was hearing a plea filed by Hemalatha, seeking his release on bail on the grounds of poor health from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai.
On January 21, state prison authorities told the High Court that Rao could be moved to the prison ward of the state-run JJ Hospital. The state government also submitted that Rao’s family members would be allowed to visit him based on hospital protocols during the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh for NIA submitted, “We must consider and believe in the latest medical report. The last report of Nanavati Hospital, which declared him fit to be discharged, shows Rao has been doing well clinically. Vital parameters are stable. The neurologist suggested normal cognitive functions and it appears he does not have dementia. However, we do not rule out dementia completely.”
The court pointed out that Rao’s earlier reports by JJ Hospital and St George Hospital issued last year had mentioned dementia, brain atrophy or shrinkage of the brain. ASG Singh submitted that the earlier reports noting dementia were discussions among doctors to check for dementia and delirium.
“We have full faith in the JJ Hospital reports, but as per expert doctors of Nanavati Hospital, where he was last treated, it is apparent that he does not have dementia right now and he can take self-care. Neurological conditions are treated. There is no counter to this by the petitioner. We cannot rule out recurrence of any disease/disorder. We have seen that during Covid-19 pandemic. We have to rely and believe on the latest report by Nanavati Hospital,” he said.
The HC said, “See the list of medicines you (authorities) are giving him every day. He is sustaining on those. So, it means he is under continuous medical support. Just see how many tablets he takes in a day.”
To which, ASG Singh responded, “Most of these pills are age-related. We too have old people in our homes taking 70-80 percent of these (pills). As per Nanavati Hospital report, Rao can take his self care. Taking all this into consideration, his present health condition, along with the state government’s statement that he will be shifted to JJ Hospital prison ward, the apprehension made by the petitioner does not survive. Therefore, the question of granting him bail arises only if the court does not have faith in the care that the JJ Hospital will be able to provide.”
However, senior counsel Anand Grover representing the petitioner opposed NIA’s submissions and said that no question of shifting Rao to JJ Hospital arises as the hospital is ‘hotbed of infections’ and might lead to relapse in Rao’s health conditions. “The only option is to send him back to Taloja jail if he is fit, else let him out on bail to be at home with his family,” Grover argued.
The court sought fresh medical report from Nanavati Hospital on Rao’s condition by Thursday morning and adjourned hearing on his bail plea to January 28 afternoon.
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