: The Supreme Court on Thursday directed the Bombay High Court to expeditiously hear the bail plea of Telugu poet and writer Varavara Rao in the Bhima Koregaon case.
A three-judge bench of the top court presided over by Justices U.U. Lalit, Vineet Saran and S. Ravindra Bhat passed the said directions noting that the bail application has not been heard by the High Court since September 17.
The bench also noted that Rao's medical condition demands attention of a particular character and time.
It also said that the matter raises questions on the rights of a prisoner.
While the matter was being heard through video conferencing, senior advocate Indira Jaising, appearing for Rao's wife Pendyala Hemalatha submitted before the court that he has been suffering from various health problems which have affected his capacity to make decisions and mental comprehension.
The senior counsel also stated that besides other ailments, Rao also has cardiovascular problems and suffered from Covid-19 but was taken back to Taloja jail from Nanavati hospital in Mumbai against medical opinion.
Following these submissions, the bench said that the medical report filed in the matter was of the month of July, and asked when the bail application was last heard by the Bombay High Court.
Jaising replied that there were hearings on the bail plea in August and then on September 17 but it was not taken up after that as one of the judges on the bench recused from further hearing the matter.
Responding to the query of the court, Jaising informed that even after repeated requests to the high court, no hearing has taken place on the bail plea despite medical reports clearly saying Rao is suffering from ailments which compromise his mental ability to comprehend.
Pendyala Hemalatha, the wife of the accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, P. Varavara Rao, has moved the Supreme Court seeking bail for him, as he suffers from various co-morbidities which is a threat to his health along with post-Covid complications.
The plea, filed through advocate Sunil Fernandes, contended that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, which violates Article 21 of the Constitution and also violates his dignity in custody. Rao had tested positive on July 16. "Although the Petitioner's husband may have later tested negative for Covid-19, after being admitted in Nanavati hospital, there is every possibility of reinfection as is now known to medical science," said the plea.
Hemalatha contended that her husband had a fall at the hospital, which has led to neurological problems as reflected in the medical report filed by Nanavati Hospital dated July 30. Expressing her dissatisfaction with the treatment of her husband in custody, she said he was hospitalised on May 27, and he was hurriedly discharged on June 1 while his bail plea on grounds of his medical problems and Covid-19 was pending.
The plea contended that post-Covid complications are known to occur in elderly persons. "Because the Petitioner's husband is in an extreme state of ill health, he is entitled to the love and solace from family members, particularly the Petitioner who are best placed to provide the medical treatment he deserves having regard to the love and affection they bear for him," said the plea.
Hemalatha urged the top court to allow Rao to be released on temporary medical bail and be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family and loved ones.
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