“The medical condition of the appellant has not improved to such an extent over a period of time that the facility of bail which was granted earlier (by the Bombay High Court) be withdrawn. Considering the totality of circumstances, the appellant is entitled to bail on medical grounds,” a bench of Justices U U Lalit, Aniruddha Bose, and Sudhanshu Dhulia ordered.
The court noted that the matter has not been taken up for framing of charges though a chargesheet has been filed. It also took into account the fact that he had spent two-and-a-half years in prison as an undertrial in the case.
In February 2021, the HC had granted him medical bail for six months. Though this was extended from time to time, the HC in April this year rejected his prayer for permanent bail and asked him to surrender within three months. The SC deleted the condition to surrender but directed that he should not leave Mumbai without the nod of the NIA Special Court.
It clarified the relief has been granted only for medical reasons and that it should not be seen as a reflection on the merits of the case. The bench added that the order shall not be a precedent for the cases of other accused.
Appearing for Rao, Senior Advocate Anand Grover said the trial will take at least 10 years. He also submitted that Rao was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and had issues of blood clotting.
Appearing for the NIA, Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, however, said it will take only one-and-a-half years.
Reacting to the SC order, Rao’s nephew N Venugopal said: “Our anxiety has come down.” However, he said, Rao “could not afford to live in Mumbai” as he has to “undergo a cataract surgery”, which he could avail “through the pension scheme in Telangana”.