Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to the poet-activist Varavara Rao, who has been in jail for over two years in the Koregaon-Bhima case, on medical grounds for six months. Mr. Rao has been in custody since August 28, 2018, awaiting trial in the case.
The 81-year-old is currently undergoing treatment at Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital where he was admitted by the Maharashtra government following the high court’s intervention.
The court has asked Mr Rao to remain in Mumbai and be available for investigation whenever needed. He has also been directed to submit his passport before the NIA (National Investigation Agency) court, and he has been forbidden to establish any contact with his co-accused in the case. He will have to submit a personal bond of ₹ 50,000 and two sureties of the same amount for his bail.
The high court while hearing Mr. Rao bail plea today said if it did not grant him medical bail, it would be abdicating its duty to protect the principles of human rights, and a citizen’s fundamental rights to life and health.
“We are relieved. It is a big relief to us. Because for the last 2.5 years, no one was getting even a small relief in this case. This is the first relief in the BK (Bhima-Koregaon) case. We are very happy but the condition is there that we have to be in Mumbai. We have to think about that and plan. We will talk to the lawyers,” Pavani, Mr Rao’s daughter said.
Earlier this month, the Bombay High Court was notified about Mr Rao’s poor health condition by his lawyer Indira Jaising, stating that of the 365 days since last February, he spent 149 days in hospital. She also asked the court to let her client out of Maharashtra’s Taloja jail where he is lodged as an undertrial, and to permit him to go home and stay with his family in Hyderabad.
To note, the case against Varavara Rao and nine other activists, being probed by the National Investigation Agency, involves allegations of plotting the violence with Maoists. The police claims the provocative speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, had led to violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial. However, Mr Rao, who headed “Veerasam”, an association of revolutionary writers, has strongly denied the charge.