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Release Varavara Rao: Two former CICs to Maha CM

Plea to release aged, ailing poet on humanitarian grounds

Sabrangindia 02 Jun 2020

Varavara Rao

Two former Chief Information Commissioners(CICs) have appealed to Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray to release the 80 year old, renowned Telugu poet, journalist and lecturer, P Vara Vara Rao. Rao is in judicial custody for the last 18 months in Bhima Koregaon case of alleged attempt to murder the Prime Minister Modi.  

While the appeal is being made on humanitarian grounds, at the time of the crisis caused by the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, the letter also clearly states that the Pune Police and State Investigation Teams, who have investigated this case for around 16 weeks, could not collect even an iota of evidence to prove the wild charge that this 80-year-old man from Hyderabad has conspired/attempted to murder Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The Maharashtra Government under your leadership based on the investigation stated that there was no evidence against Varavara Rao and others in this case and also declared that very soon they would close the file. However the hasty takeover of the case by the National Investigation agency (NIA) precluded any steps being taken.

The entire text of the letter, dated May 31, 2020, may be read here:

 

To

Shri Uddhav Thakare Ji

Hon’ble Chief Minister

Maharashtra Government

Mumbai

 

Respected Chief Minister

Sub: A request to release P Varavara Rao, on humanitarian grounds…regarding.

We, the former Central Information Commissioners, request you to release 80-year-old ailing citizen of India, renowned Telugu Poet, Journalist and Lecturer Sri P Vara Vara Rao, who is in judicial custody for the last 18 months in Bhima Koregaon case of alleged attempt to murder the Prime Minister Modi.  

Absolute lack of evidence

The Pune Police and State Investigation Teams have investigated this case for around 16 weeks and could not collect even an iota of evidence to prove the wild charge that this 80-year-old man from Hyderabad has conspired/attempted to murder Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The Maharashtra Government under your leadership based on the investigation stated that there was no evidence against Varavara Rao and others in this case and also declared that very soon they would close the file. But, at that time, suddenly the National Investigation Authority NIA has taken over the investigation into its hands and again stalled the release of Varavara Rao on bail. So far, no progress in investigation against Varavara Rao is reported by NIA also.

Constitutional position

The subject of ‘Law and order’ is in the State List as per the distribution of powers under Indian Constitution, which cannot be taken away by the Centre without any such request from the State or by the Court.  The usurping of the case will also mean usurping of the power of the State, which is against the equal sovereignty of States and thus violates federalism.  Constitutionally and practically speaking the state of Maharashtra is more eligible and equipped to deal with this local case, rather than any central investigation agency.

Legal position

It is a well-established principal of criminal justice that the accused shall be presumed innocent until the charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt. Because of lack of evidence, Varavara Rao has every right to be acquitted as not guilty. Only awaited legal formality is the final judgment of acquittal by court.  The length of waiting for final judgment is not known. The burden of proof of his guilt is totally on the shoulders of state, which has every authority to discharge when truth of his non-involvement in such alleged attempt was established. The State police tried its best in probing the allegations but what can anybody do when the allegation was not true and because of that any amount of investigation may not yield any piece of evidence. In such an event, Varavara Rao deserves at least release on bail, on the above-mentioned strength of legal position.

Factual position

Varavara Rao, at this advanced age of 80s, with several health issues, living in Hyderabad with family (wife and three daughters), with his most honest history as a simple teacher, journalist (Editor of Srijana, monthly literary magazine in Telugu) and poet cannot be expected to jump the bail, which should have been the strong ground for granting bail. This is the factual position that entitles him to be released on bail.

Humanity position

Not the least, the humanity demands his release. Before he was taken into judicial custody, Varavara Rao was suffering from multiple diseases like piles, thyroid issue, Prostate gland enlargement, Coronary artillery issue, acidity and migraine synesis etc.  Recently he developed some more health problems in prison. It is reported that Varavara Rao fell ill on May 29 and was shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja jail in Maharashtra, which shocked his near and dear ones. The family members were in darkness about his ill-health until the JJ Hospital released a bulletin that his vitals are normally functional. His health condition should be taken into be considered and the state should kindly allow the veteran poet to spend his rest of life with his seventy-two-year-old life partner and daughters n peace on these humanitarian grounds.

COVID19 Condition

The Supreme Court recently directed release of convicted and under-trial detainees to contain the coronavirus spread by decongestion of prisons. It is unfortunate that either COVID19 crisis, or Supreme Court’s direction did not come to his rescue. Several thousands of prisoners were given either parole or bail to go out of prison, from dozens of jails in India in last two months, though some of them were charged with offences for which 7 years of imprisonment could be imposed on proof of guilt. There are already 3600 inmates in Taloja prison, which has capacity of just 2100, including Varavara Rao, who because of advanced age and ill health more vulnerable to get infected by COVID19. In addition, he is being given just one bucket of water per day, which can hardly be enough to keep himself hygienic, which aggravates the risk of Coronavirus attack. At least for preventing the corona infection, Varavara Rao should have been released in addition to the fact that there was no evidence against him.  Instead, the Covid crisis was used to harm the life of this prisoner. He was denied daily newspapers, video conferences with wife were stopped, water allocation reduced, mulaakhaats cancelled and information was blocked.

Information issues

The family members are not given complete information about Varavara Rao’s medical condition. From February 29 to March 22 he was allowed to talk to his wife once in a week for two minutes after three weeks. His wife Hemalatha could talk to him for just six minutes in all in three weeks that would hardly suffice to enquire about his family, and there was no scope to talk about him. Family continues to be anxious about his health eternally waiting for satisfactory information. The Chikkadpally Police station in Hyderabad called his wife on 29th night and gave just one sentence of information that he was shifted to JJ Hospital. Through one friend of a co-prisoner, Varavara Rao’s brother in law N Venugopal, a journalist, could find that his body was swollen and that he fell unconscious on 28th May. Very fact that he was taken to JJ Hospital suggests his condition was serious, otherwise he would have continued under care of Taloja prison’s medical team only. All these factors further increased the anxiety of wife and daughters, and no reliable details being made available from any quarter.

Non submission of medical report

The Magistrate who is hearing the case is seeking medical report about Varavara Rao, since several adjournments. When the Court was hearing bail petition on May 29, the medical team was attending to an unconscious Varavara Rao. But medical report was not submitted to the court.  The court adjourned case again for medical report to June 2.  We request your good self to instruct the concerned to provide complete details of his health status to the Court, which might facilitate court to grant bail to him.

Release Varavara Rao: Two former CICs to Maha CM

Plea to release aged, ailing poet on humanitarian grounds

Varavara Rao

Two former Chief Information Commissioners(CICs) have appealed to Maharashtra chief minister, Uddhav Thackeray to release the 80 year old, renowned Telugu poet, journalist and lecturer, P Vara Vara Rao. Rao is in judicial custody for the last 18 months in Bhima Koregaon case of alleged attempt to murder the Prime Minister Modi.  

While the appeal is being made on humanitarian grounds, at the time of the crisis caused by the Covid 19 pandemic lockdown, the letter also clearly states that the Pune Police and State Investigation Teams, who have investigated this case for around 16 weeks, could not collect even an iota of evidence to prove the wild charge that this 80-year-old man from Hyderabad has conspired/attempted to murder Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The Maharashtra Government under your leadership based on the investigation stated that there was no evidence against Varavara Rao and others in this case and also declared that very soon they would close the file. However the hasty takeover of the case by the National Investigation agency (NIA) precluded any steps being taken.

The entire text of the letter, dated May 31, 2020, may be read here:

 

To

Shri Uddhav Thakare Ji

Hon’ble Chief Minister

Maharashtra Government

Mumbai

 

Respected Chief Minister

Sub: A request to release P Varavara Rao, on humanitarian grounds…regarding.

We, the former Central Information Commissioners, request you to release 80-year-old ailing citizen of India, renowned Telugu Poet, Journalist and Lecturer Sri P Vara Vara Rao, who is in judicial custody for the last 18 months in Bhima Koregaon case of alleged attempt to murder the Prime Minister Modi.  

Absolute lack of evidence

The Pune Police and State Investigation Teams have investigated this case for around 16 weeks and could not collect even an iota of evidence to prove the wild charge that this 80-year-old man from Hyderabad has conspired/attempted to murder Prime Minister Narendra Modi.  The Maharashtra Government under your leadership based on the investigation stated that there was no evidence against Varavara Rao and others in this case and also declared that very soon they would close the file. But, at that time, suddenly the National Investigation Authority NIA has taken over the investigation into its hands and again stalled the release of Varavara Rao on bail. So far, no progress in investigation against Varavara Rao is reported by NIA also.

Constitutional position

The subject of ‘Law and order’ is in the State List as per the distribution of powers under Indian Constitution, which cannot be taken away by the Centre without any such request from the State or by the Court.  The usurping of the case will also mean usurping of the power of the State, which is against the equal sovereignty of States and thus violates federalism.  Constitutionally and practically speaking the state of Maharashtra is more eligible and equipped to deal with this local case, rather than any central investigation agency.

Legal position

It is a well-established principal of criminal justice that the accused shall be presumed innocent until the charge is proved beyond reasonable doubt. Because of lack of evidence, Varavara Rao has every right to be acquitted as not guilty. Only awaited legal formality is the final judgment of acquittal by court.  The length of waiting for final judgment is not known. The burden of proof of his guilt is totally on the shoulders of state, which has every authority to discharge when truth of his non-involvement in such alleged attempt was established. The State police tried its best in probing the allegations but what can anybody do when the allegation was not true and because of that any amount of investigation may not yield any piece of evidence. In such an event, Varavara Rao deserves at least release on bail, on the above-mentioned strength of legal position.

Factual position

Varavara Rao, at this advanced age of 80s, with several health issues, living in Hyderabad with family (wife and three daughters), with his most honest history as a simple teacher, journalist (Editor of Srijana, monthly literary magazine in Telugu) and poet cannot be expected to jump the bail, which should have been the strong ground for granting bail. This is the factual position that entitles him to be released on bail.

Humanity position

Not the least, the humanity demands his release. Before he was taken into judicial custody, Varavara Rao was suffering from multiple diseases like piles, thyroid issue, Prostate gland enlargement, Coronary artillery issue, acidity and migraine synesis etc.  Recently he developed some more health problems in prison. It is reported that Varavara Rao fell ill on May 29 and was shifted to JJ Hospital from Taloja jail in Maharashtra, which shocked his near and dear ones. The family members were in darkness about his ill-health until the JJ Hospital released a bulletin that his vitals are normally functional. His health condition should be taken into be considered and the state should kindly allow the veteran poet to spend his rest of life with his seventy-two-year-old life partner and daughters n peace on these humanitarian grounds.

COVID19 Condition

The Supreme Court recently directed release of convicted and under-trial detainees to contain the coronavirus spread by decongestion of prisons. It is unfortunate that either COVID19 crisis, or Supreme Court’s direction did not come to his rescue. Several thousands of prisoners were given either parole or bail to go out of prison, from dozens of jails in India in last two months, though some of them were charged with offences for which 7 years of imprisonment could be imposed on proof of guilt. There are already 3600 inmates in Taloja prison, which has capacity of just 2100, including Varavara Rao, who because of advanced age and ill health more vulnerable to get infected by COVID19. In addition, he is being given just one bucket of water per day, which can hardly be enough to keep himself hygienic, which aggravates the risk of Coronavirus attack. At least for preventing the corona infection, Varavara Rao should have been released in addition to the fact that there was no evidence against him.  Instead, the Covid crisis was used to harm the life of this prisoner. He was denied daily newspapers, video conferences with wife were stopped, water allocation reduced, mulaakhaats cancelled and information was blocked.

Information issues

The family members are not given complete information about Varavara Rao’s medical condition. From February 29 to March 22 he was allowed to talk to his wife once in a week for two minutes after three weeks. His wife Hemalatha could talk to him for just six minutes in all in three weeks that would hardly suffice to enquire about his family, and there was no scope to talk about him. Family continues to be anxious about his health eternally waiting for satisfactory information. The Chikkadpally Police station in Hyderabad called his wife on 29th night and gave just one sentence of information that he was shifted to JJ Hospital. Through one friend of a co-prisoner, Varavara Rao’s brother in law N Venugopal, a journalist, could find that his body was swollen and that he fell unconscious on 28th May. Very fact that he was taken to JJ Hospital suggests his condition was serious, otherwise he would have continued under care of Taloja prison’s medical team only. All these factors further increased the anxiety of wife and daughters, and no reliable details being made available from any quarter.

Non submission of medical report

The Magistrate who is hearing the case is seeking medical report about Varavara Rao, since several adjournments. When the Court was hearing bail petition on May 29, the medical team was attending to an unconscious Varavara Rao. But medical report was not submitted to the court.  The court adjourned case again for medical report to June 2.  We request your good self to instruct the concerned to provide complete details of his health status to the Court, which might facilitate court to grant bail to him.

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