On October 23, the Bombay High Court had allowed Rao to travel to Hyderabad for surgery in his right eye. The high court had directed Raoto approach the National Investigation Agency court for surgery for the other eye, after returning to Mumbai following the first surgery.
TODAY, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) court of special judge Rajesh Kataria allowed activist, writer and teacher and poet Dr P. Varavara Rao to travel to Hyderabad to undergo cataract surgery on his left eye.
After being incarcerated for four years, the 82-year-old Rao wasgranted medical bail by the Supreme Court on August 10 last year.
His bail conditions included prohibition from leaving the city limits of Mumbai without the express permission of the NIA court.
On October 23, the Bombay High Court granted Rao permission to travel to Hyderabad for a week to undergo cataract surgery.
Rao had approached the high court after the NIA court rejected his plea on September 23 last year.
In his application, Rao had averred that travelling to Hyderabad would allow him to undergo surgery free of charge since the cost of the surgery in private hospitals in Mumbai was unaffordable.
A division Bench of the high court comprising Justices A.S. Gadkari and S.C. Chandak had directed Rao to approach the NIA court for surgery for the other eye, after returning to Mumbai following the first surgery.
Today, the NIA court allowed Rao to undergo surgery at the Sarojini Devi Eye Hospital in Hyderabad from December 5 to 11.
The court directed Rao to follow certain bail conditions.
Firstly, Rao is required to report to the NIA on December 4 (prior to leaving Mumbai for Hyderabad) and furnish details of his travel journey and the address and contact number of the place where he will be staying in Hyderabad.
Secondly, the court directed Rao to inform the NIA about the date fixed for the appointment by the concerned doctor in writing before leaving Mumbai. Rao is also directed to report to the NIA on December 12 after returning to Mumbai.
Thirdly, Rao was permitted to reside at the address approved by the high court under its Order dated October 23.
Fourthly, the NIA directed Rao to follow the bail conditions imposed on Rao by the Supreme Court while granting medical bail on August 10 last year; by the high court in its Order of October 23; and by the NIA court on August 18 last year.
The Supreme Court had directed Rao not to leave Mumbai without the express permission of the NIA court. Besides, it had directed Rao to ensure he does not misuse his liberty, stay away from his co-accused, and not influence the witnesses and investigation in the case.
The Bench had allowed Rao to seek medical attention of his choice, but he is required to keep the NIA apprised of any such development.
On August 28, 2018, Rao and four others were arrested from different parts of the country on UAPA charges for having links with Maoists and instigating the violence at Koregaon Bhima.
OnFebruary 22, 2021, the Bombay High Court granted six months’ bail to Rao, on account of his old age, sickness, infirmity and multiple health ailments suffered by him.
The court observed that his continued custody would be incompatible with his health conditions and that sending him back to Taloja Central Prison would amount to endangering his life, thereby violating his fundamental right underArticle 21 of the Constitution. Thereafter, the court extended his bail to March 21, 2021 on medical grounds.
OnMarch 21, 2021, the high court heard a bunch of petitions by Rao that prayed to the court to modify his temporary release to permanent medical bail. However, the court denied his permanent bail and directed his expeditious trial.
InDecember 2021, apart from lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj, a co-accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, the Bombay High Court rejected default bail applications of Rao and seven others.
OnMay 4, 2022, the Bombay High Court dismissed the petition that sought review of its earlier December 1, 2021 Order.
On August 10 last year, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia granted permanent medical bail to Rao.
Factors such as his old age, two and half years of custody, non-framing of charges against Rao, and his deteriorating health weighed in favour of the grant of bail.
Father Stan Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal-rights activist based in Jharkhand, was arrested under the UAPA in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case inOctober 2020.
Fr. Swamydied in prison, in July 2021, at the age of 84, awaiting bail on medical grounds.