No bail for Varavara Rao yet, but HC orders medical exam

This is the second petition filed by Rao’s wife since his bail plea had not been listed despite a SC order


Pendyala Hemlatha, wife of renowned Telugu poet P Varavara Rao had moved the Bombay High Court in a new petition under Article 226 of the Constitution through advocate R Satyanarayan today. Senior Advocate Indira Jaising made submissions on Dr. Rao’s behalf. Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh appeared for the National Investigation Agency.

The Bench of Justices AK Menon and SP Tavade have ordered for a medical examination to gauge the health status of Dr. Rao, reports per Bar and Bench. The court added that the exam be conducted via video today itself, if possible, with the participation of doctors from Nanavati Hospital who had earlier issued a report on Dr. Rao’s condition. The medical report has to be submitted to the court before November 16.

Further, it clarified, “If the panel feels that the assessment of the medical condition is not possible on video call, then they can visit the Taloja Jail in consultation of the jail authorities.”

Submissions made by petitioner

Senior Advocate Jaising contended in court today, “I hesitate to make bold statements, but I don’t mind saying this that I apprehend he will lose his life if he continues in jail. He suffers from a neurological condition, he is bedridden, his catheter is not changed for more than 40 days.”

“He is entitled to be set on liberty; he is sick. I am only seeking he be transferred to Nanavati Hospital, and an independent medical investigation be called for, to chart out the further course of action for him. We are no experts in these matters”, she added.

Pointing at his deteriorating neurological health, Ms. Jaising said, “Rao had suffered lacerated wounds on his head when he was admitted in St. George’s hospital. He is suffering from dementia. His mental condition because of his physical condition was not correct and his condition was not corrected. His neurological status has not improved. This is from Nanavati where he was detected Covid-19 positive. Despite such report, why was he sent back to jail?… even the decisions of NIA to move to the Taloja Jail is unfathomable.”

Perplexed at why Dr. Rao has not been granted bail, she reportedly argued, “The reason for rejecting his bail was that he is accused under the UAPA, that he is a ‘terrorist.’ There is a list of 25 matters wherein he is allegedly accused. Let me point out, barring 2, he is acquitted in all.”

Taking cognisance of the need of medical care, the court reportedly opined, “A medical assessment cannot be opposed by the State. Chief PP Deepak Thakare, what we propose is get team of doctors from Nanavati Hospital to assess his situation.”

The matter will now be taken up on November 17 before vacation Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar.

Content of the writ petition

The plea filed by Pendyala Hemlatha sought immediate release of the poet on medical grounds citing the failure of the Government authorities to provide proper medical treatment in jail, as reported by Bar and Bench.

The plea stated that depriving appropriate medical treatment in jail to the poet is a fundamental right violation of his health, dignity and life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Further, it submitted that his detention in jail amounts to cruelty and fair monetary compensation should also be dispensed to him. Deeply anguished by the medical state of Dr. Varavara Rao in jail, the plea further added that, “Ever since he has been kept in Taloja jail, bed ridden, on diapers and a urinary bag with two co-accused as his 24-hour attendants, he can move only in a wheelchair and is mostly bed-ridden.”

Blaming the State’s callousness in arranging for the mental and physical upkeep of Dr. Rao, the petition asked, “Can the State be held responsible for the continuous deterioration of medical health of Petitioner’s husband, who is 81 years of age, and tested COVID positive while in judicial custody, has several comorbidities and whether the said imprisonment and denial of bail is not a form of cruel and inhuman treatment during the pendency of trial?”

On October 15, Pendyala Hemlatha had moved the Supreme Court through a writ petition that sought his immediate release on deteriorating medical grounds. The top court refused to intervene although it did take cognisance of the violation of his fundamental Right to Life due to inhumane jail conditions. It had instead asked the Bombay High Court to list his bail plea on October 29.


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