Bombay HC extends Varavara Rao’s bail on medical grounds for three more months

THE Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant permanent bail to poet and activist P. Varavara Rao, accused of inciting violence in the Bhima Koregaon case. However, the division bench of Justices S.B. Shukre and G.A. Sanap extended his temporary medical bail by three months, to allow for his cataract surgery. They also issued directions for the expedition of his trial.

Further, the court refused his plea to shift from the charitable home he is residing at in Mumbai to his own residence in Hyderabad, citing the proximity of family during his ill-health, and the high cost of living in Mumbai.

So far, three applications had been filed on Rao’s behalf, including an application for extension of bail, an application for modification as well as an application seeking permanent medical bail. The 82-year old accused’s lawyer, Anand Grover, had previously argued before the court that the medical report submitted by Nanavati Hospital showed how Rao had cataract in both his eyes, along with being diagnosed with hernia and early onset of Parkinson’s disease. He had also submitted that as per Section 437 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, permanent medical bail could be granted to the accused regardless of the charges against him.

The bench, while rejecting the application for permanent medical bail, took into consideration the submissions of the petitioner regarding the available conditions and facilities at Navi Mumbai’s Taloja prison. The bench directed the Inspector General (Prisons) to collect information from all the state’s prisons on the total number of medical officers, nursing staff and others, and file a compliance report on the same by April 30. The court directed the authorities to comply with the prison norms laid out in the Maharashtra Prisons Hospital Rules, 1970.

The high court directed the special National Investigation Agency court to expedite the trial, conduct hearings on a day-to-day basis, and make note of the concerns/grievances raised by the parties as to the delay in the trial.