Bombay HC grants Dr. Varavara Rao bail for six months

The octogenarian Telugu poet has been in custody and awaiting trial since August 2018

varavara rao

A Division Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale of the Bombay High Court has granted Varavara Rao interim bail for six months on medical grounds. Bar & Bench quoted the Bench saying, “We are of the opinion that this is a genuine and fit case to grant relief or else we will be abdicating our constitutional duties as protector of human rights and right to health covered under right to life”.

“We feel that with the condition of the under-trial, it would be inappropriate to send him back. It would be appropriate to impose such conditions. The undertrial is to be released on bail for a period of 6 months”, they said as per a tweet by Bar & Bench.

The counsel for the National Investigation Agency (NIA) tried getting a stay on his release for another three weeks but the Bench rejected it. LiveLaw quoted Justice SS Shinde saying, “We feel that although material on record shows that the health condition of undertrial is precarious we feel that sending him back to prison is fraught with the risk of his presence being used by those allegedly associated with him. The court cannot rule out such contingency and therefore we feel appropriate to impose conditions as necessary so that the undertrial or those associated with him do not take undue advantage”.

The court has also imposed strict restrictions on Dr. Rao who has to stay within the jurisdiction of the Special NIA Court and after the completion of 6 months, he has to report back to Taloja Jail. He has also been directed to not make any public statements related to the proceeding and establish any connection with the co-accused persons.

The same Bench had reserved orders on his bail plea on February 1 and in the interim, he was directed to continue at Nanavati Hospital. Last year, the Special NIA court rejected his bail application twice, after which Rao’s family moved the High court and Supreme Court. In October 2020, the top court had directed the Bombay High Court to list his bail plea at the earliest on medical grounds.

According to the FIR filed against him in Pune, the Police claimed that the speeches given by him and fellow leftist activists at Elgar Parishad, an evening programme organized on the eve of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon were partially responsible for inciting violence the next day.

He has been booked for waging war, sedition, indulging in vilification of a particular group and other related offences under the Indian Penal code and relevant sections of the stringent UAPA.


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