Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has granted bail to P Varavara Rao, one of the prime accused in the Koregaon-Bhima case, on medical grounds for six months, here on Monday. The bail order was passed by a division bench comprising Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale in two separate matters pertaining to the 82-year-old ailing activist.
Varavara Rao, a revolutionary author and a Left ideologue, was first arrested by Pune police on August 28, 2018, in connection with the case involving a conspiracy to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi, which he and his family have vehemently denied.
Imposing conditions, the court directed that Rao must remain within the jurisdiction of the Special NIA Court, appear before the court whenever required though he could apply to seek exemption from physical appearance and advised him not to indulge in any kind of activities of which he was earlier accused in the police case. When the Additional Solicitor-General Anil Singh sought a three-week stay on the order, the court rejected the plea given Rao’s advanced age and his medical conditions. The orders came on Rao’s plea seeking bail and an application by his wife P. Hemlatha demanding the high court’s intervention alleging violation of his fundamental right to health.
Grover said the Taloja jail hospital was ill-equipped to handle Rao’s critical health condition while Jaising said his detention was “cruel, inhuman and degrading”. Representing the NIA, ASG Singh opposed the bail on grounds that the jail authorities are capable of extending all medical facilities as provided by the Nanavati Hospital, and the seriousness of the offences of national security under which Rao is charged must be taken into account while considering his bail plea. Hailing from Telangana’s Warangal district, Rao is a litterateur (author and poet), critic, orator, a former teacher, professor, college principal, who worked with the Union Ministry of Information & Broadcasting for some time and was jailed during the Emergency.
He also worked as an emissary for the Telugu Desam-led Andhra Pradesh regime in 2001 to negotiate peace between the government and a couple of banned Maoist outfits. Rao was arrested from his Hyderabad home in August 2018 for the Elgar Parishad of December 31, 2017, and the subsequent caste riots in Koregaon-Bhima on January 1, 2018. During his stay as an undertrial in Taloja Central Jail, he has been hospitalized several times, including once after testing positive for Covid-19.