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‘Consider Varavara Rao’s age in bail plea’: Bombay HC tells NIA

Poet-activist Varavara Rao has been in jail for over two years without a trial.
File photo/PTI
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday said the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Maharashtra government should consider the age and health of poet-activist Varavara Rao, arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, while making submissions on his bail plea. A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale posted Rao’s plea seeking bail on medical grounds for hearing on Thursday.
Rao, one of the accused in the case being probed by the NIA, was admitted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai last month, following the HC’s intervention while hearing a petition filed by his wife P Hemalatha, raising concerns over his ill-health. Since then, the private hospital has been submitting periodic reports on Rao’s health to the HC.
The Maharashtra government had last month agreed to bear the expenses for his treatment at the hospital.
“The petitioner (Rao) is 88 years old. Keep in view his age and health conditions while making submissions on the bail plea, reflect on his health. We are all human beings,” Justice Shinde said.
Rao’s stay at Nanavati Hospital was extended on December 15 by the HC. The court had directed officials against shifting the poet to jail without notice.
Earlier, Rao had been in and out of the state-run JJ Hospital ever since his arrest in June 2018. In July last year, he tested positive for coronavirus, following which he was admitted to Nanavati Hospital, but he was later discharged and sent back to the Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
Apart from Rao’s bail plea, the court is also hearing a petition filed by his wife, alleging a breach of his fundamental rights due to his continued incarceration without adequate medical care.
Rao and some other Left-leaning activists were arrested for alleged links with Maoists following the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Maharashtra’s Pune district on December 31, 2017.