Varavara Rao’s bail Extended due to Rising Covid Cases

Varavara Rao is one of the accused in Bhima Koregaon case. Rao suffers from asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease, neurological ailments and severe abdomen pain, indicating evidence of umbilical hernia.

Varavara Rao

The Bombay High Court on Friday extended Elgaar Parishad case accused Varavara Rao’s bail till February 5. The octogenarian had been granted medical bail for six months on February 22 last year and was later allowed to extend it till January 7, 2022.

On Friday, the matter was listed before a division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N R Borkar. “You know that the third wave, experts say, may survive for 50-60 days. Front Line Workers (FLWs) and police personnel are testing positive for Covid-19. The figures were not the same as the first or second wave. Is it possible that in such a wave he (Rao) should be sent to jail? We will hear you on merits. Give us some breathing space,” Justice Shinde orally remarked.

On December 17 last year, the Nanavati Hospital had submitted a written clinical summary on Rao’s health, stating that his neurological condition was normal and that “he is able to perform activities of daily living”. The high court had on December 20 perused his medical reports. Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Rao, had told the court that the medical reports indicated that his client deserved an extension of bail.

The court had then asked his counsel to file a short affidavit on the same by December 28 and had posted further hearing to January 4. The matter was listed before the division bench on Friday after the regular bench led by Justice P B Varale recused itself from hearing the same on January 4.

Advocate Sandesh Patil for NIA submitted that as the plea was served to the agency on Thursday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh could not be briefed on the same and therefore the matter be posted to next date at the earliest.

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Justice Shinde said, “This is high time. Take full care. The (Covid) spread is rapid and fast. We are seriously concerned about all stakeholders in the system including staff, advocates. Fortunately, in Maharashtra and Mumbai, the Centre, state and BMC and other local bodies are doing a wonderful job and addressing the concerns. We have to respect their work.”

Advocate Grover sought that the earlier interim order allowing more time to return to jail be extended till further hearing, which the court accepted and posted further hearing to February 4.

Rao’s plea said the six-month period following his release from jail had ended on September 5 and that he continues to suffer from various ailments that require treatment. The 82-year-old added that medical reports showed he has asymptomatic Parkinson’s disease, neurological ailments and severe abdomen pain, indicating evidence of umbilical hernia.

Rao also sought modification of the high court’s condition that he must not leave the city, seeking instead that he be allowed to return to Telangana.

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