Varavara Rao’s health deteriorates, wife moves SC for release on medical grounds

His health is very feeble, says Pendaya Hemlatha, wife of the 81-year-old literary critic who was arrested in 2018 in connection with the Elgar Parishad case and is lodged at the Taloja jail since


Concerned over his sinking health, Telugu revolutionary poet Varavara Rao’s wife, Pendaya Hemlatha, has moved the Supreme Court seeking the release of her husband on medical grounds. The 81-year-old renowned literary critic was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case in 2018, and is still lodged at the Taloja jail in Navi Mumbai. 

On Thursday, his wife in her writ petition seeking his release has stated that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution of India and is violative of his dignity in custody, reported the legal new portal LiveLaw. Filed on behalf of Senior Advocate Sunil Fernandes, the writ petition preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution states that “Rao’s immediate release is pertinent from Taloja Central Jail, Maharashtra as his health condition is very feeble and that he suffers from various comorbidities,” stated the news report.

SabrangIndia had reported in detail when his condition was critical and he had to be hospitalised in July this year. He had also tested positive for Covid-19, and the National Human Rights Commission had even issued notices to Maharashtra Chief Secretary and Director General (Prisons) seeking his health reports.

According to his wife he still may be suffering from the after effects of Covid-19, as he is of frail  health and has various comorbidities.  “….there is no positive treatment for Covid-19 and the infection continues to spread viciously and neither there is any vaccine nor is there any medicine to arrest the said disease,” stated the petition, as quoted by LiveLaw. According to the plea, a letter dated September 9 that the family received from co-accused Vernon Gonsalves also stated that Rao’s health was far from normal.

Gonsalves wrote that Rao now lacks bowel and urine control, and has a catheter urine bag attached, he also has to use diapers and is being given swab baths by the co-accused “as he is basically bed-ridden”. The said letter added that when Rao was sent to judicial custody in November 2018, he weighed around 68 kgs and now  weighs 50 kgs only. 

“Thus, there is no purpose in detaining him in prison any further,” the plea states. According to LiveLaw, the petition added that Varavarao Rao is now 81 years old and the question that would arise is whether the jail would have necessary facilities to take care of him. “The treatment meted out to Dr. Varavara impairs the Right to Health recognized under Article 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which is read with Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The rights enshrined under ICCPR and ICESCR have to be read with Article 21 and other rights under Chapter III of the Constitution of India”, stated the plea.

LiveLaw reports that under the mandate prescribed under Section 21(2) of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, the appeal should be disposed of within three months from the date of its admission. The appeal added that since the “chance of commencement of trial in the immediate future is bleak and charges are yet to be framed and there is no bar to grant bail on health grounds under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or the National Investigation Act, his release can basis temporary bail can be granted.”

“The Respondents are solely responsible for the deterioration of the Petitioner’s husband’s health by denying timely and proper medical treatment to ensure that there is no deterioration in his condition. The discharge of the Petitioner’s husband from J.J. Hospital on 01.06.2020  is itself was wrongful denying him rightful treatment which the Respondents are bound in law to provide,” the report quoted the petitioners. Rao’s wife has also sought that he be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family and loved ones.

Dr Rao, has been accused under Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18-B, 20, 38, 39, 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 and sections: 121, 121-A, 124- A, 153-A, 505 (1) (b), 117, 120-B r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code. 


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