Activist Varavara Rao Denied Relief; “He’s Bedridden,” Family Had Actually Pleaded
Varavara Rao is currently at the Taloja prison near Mumbai (File)
- Varavara Rao has been in jail for over 2 years in Koregaon-Bhima case
- The Bombay High Court has actually denied bail to him
- The court said the case would be heard again on November 17
Poet-activist Varavara Rao, in jail for over 2 years in the Koregaon-Bhima case, will be examined by a panel of medical professionals through video call, the Bombay High Court stated today as his household requested his release and transfer to a healthcare facility on account of his aggravating health.
” He is bedridden. He is on diapers … Is this guy going to run away from justice,” the activist’s legal representative Indira Jaising argued prior to the High Court, saying that his health was fast weakening and he had dementia.
The court, posting the next hearing to Tuesday, said a video call with doctors from a private medical facility need to be arranged at the earliest. “To evaluate the present condition of Varavara Rao, it will be appropriate to have a video medical checkup. All parties agree that the video assessment can be arranged today or tomorrow early morning by doctors of Nanavati healthcare facility who made the July 30 report,” said the court, referring to an earlier medical assessment.
Varavara Rao, 80, was jailed in 2018 and charged under a rigid anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Avoidance Act, which permits detention without trial for many years. His family pleaded that his continued incarceration in ill-health amounts to infraction of Short article 21 of the constitution that guarantees the right to life and individual liberty. He also contracted Covid in jail.
He has been in Taloja Prison near Mumbai and it was a co-accused, Stan Swamy, who had called attorneys and informed them that Mr Rao was seriously weak, Ms Jaising said.
” I am looking for an immediate interim relief to move Varavara Rao from Taloja jail to Nanavati Hospital. Ultimate relief I am seeking is that he be set at liberty as his rights are being breached,” Ms Jaising informed the court.
She said Taloja prison did not have the infrastructure of a super-specialty healthcare facility to deal with a person with the conditions of Varavara Rao and he required to be with his household. In this condition he could not even stand trial, she informed the court, including that if he passed away in jail, it would be custodial death.
Taloja jail remained in the headlines recently due to the fact that TELEVISION anchor Arnab Goswami was held there after his arrest in a 2018 abetment to suicide case. Mr Goswami was approved bail yesterday by the Supreme Court, which restated the concept that bail is the guideline and prison is the exception and sent out a message to High Courts that they must exercise their jurisdiction to uphold the principle of personal liberty.
Those campaigning for Varavara Rao’s release argued why the same requirements could not be used to him and other jailed activists like Sudha Bhardwaj and Stan Swamy, also arrested in the Koregaon-Bhima case.
The case, being penetrated by the National Examination Firm (NIA), involves accusations of provocative speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave kept in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the cops declared caused violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.
Varavara Rao and 9 other activists were accused of outlining the violence with Maoists. Mr Rao, who headed “Veerasam”, an association of innovative authors, has highly rejected the charge.
Recently, Daddy Stan Swamy, another activist arrested in the same case, asked for a straw and a sipper to consume water as he had Parkinson’s disease, but the NIA requested for 20 days to react.
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