Bombay High Court orders to shift Varavara Rao to Nanavati Hospital from Taloja Jail
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday orders to shift Varavara Rao to Nanavati Hospital from Taloja Jail, for 15 days for a systematic check-up. The Court orders this while considering the critical medical condition of Varavara Rao.
Since August 2018, Rao has been under custody. He is facing charges under the UAPA, for alleged contacts with Maoists in the Bhima Koregaon case.
“Ultimately the man is on almost death bed. He needs some treatment. Can the State say no no we will treat him in Taloja? We are only saying transfer him to Nanavati for two weeks. We will further see after two week,” said the Bench.
The Court had also held that the family members will be permitted to visit Rao, subject to applicable protocols and that he cannot be discharged without informing the Court.
Further, it directed that he should not be discharged from the hospital without informing the Court. The medical reports have to be submitted before the Court. The court will further consider the matter on December 3.
The High Court was hearing two cases –
- The bail application filed by Varavara Rao on medical grounds
- The writ petition filed by Rao’s wife Hemalata stating that his confinement was a violation of his right to health and life.
Submission on behalf of the petitioner
- Senior Advocate Indira Jaising submitted that there was a “reasonable apprehension” that Varavara Rao may die in jail and will not stand trial in the Bhima Koregoan case.
- His medical condition was highly vulnerable and that the facilities in Taloja Jail hospital were not sufficient to treat his conditions, she submitted referring to his medical reports.
- Presently, Rao is being looked after by his co-accused Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira who are not medically trained, indicating that the Taloja jail hospital is incapable of taking care of him, she informed the Court
- “His capability for the intake of food is compromised. His monitoring can only happen in a super specialty hospital and not in Taloja jail”, she submitted.
- Yesterday, Senior Advocate Indira Jaising, depicted the one page medical report prepared by the doctors of Nanavati hospital after examining Rao via video as an “complete eyewash”.
- Detailing critical medical condition of Rao, Jaising said the Court that according to the report prepared by the Nanavati Hospital, Rao is disoriented. However, he was examined only for 15 minutes through video conferencing, she said. The Court also agreed that proper medical examination is not possible over 15 minute’s video call and that detailed physical examination under the guidance of specialists was necessary.
- Today, during physical hearing of the matter Jaising said that, “the tests conducted at Taloja jail hospital were conducted by a private agency in Panvel. How can he be monitored in a hospital like that where there are no laboratories? There is a reasonable apprehension that he (Varavara Rao) will die in custody. “Advertisement
“He (Varavara Rao) is completely bed-ridden, in diapers, no medical attendant and has a catheter. Catheter was not changed for 3 months, as there was no one to change it. Who will take responsibility if he dies? He has had a heart attack in Nanavati Hospital. If anything happens to him, it will be nothing short of a “custodial death”,” she added
- “Till today Nanavati discharge report is not made available to the family. Only those reports will tell us what action has been taken or not taken. Nanavati Hospital discharge report, JJ hospital and St George Hospital discharge reports are not available,” she submitted.
- As Rao has already undergone from Covid-19, she insisted that post Covid complications can result in multiple organ failure especially for older people.
- She further argued that the NIA Court didn’t follow the COVID19 guidelines to release prisoners on interim bail when a second bail application was filed on behalf of Rao based on the fresh guidelines issued for prisoners over 65 yrs of age.
Public Prosecutor’s Submission
- The Public Prosecutor, Deepak Thakare, informed the Court that State of Maharashtra has no objection to shifting him to Nanavati hospital. But he further submitted that the case should be treated as a special case and not as a precedent.
- Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare, appearing for the State, had suggested that Varavara Rao will be shifted to the JJ Hospital, which is a govt hospital, and all tests could be conducted there.
- However, Jaising intensely opposed this suggestion and submitted that in July, when Rao was admitted at JJ hospital, he sustained head injuries. “I am alleging negligence on the part of the State. If the State is unable to look after him, he needs to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital,” she argued.
- The Court directed Rao to shift to Nanavati Hospital as JJ Hospital is already burdened, and held that he will continue to be in NIA custody.
“Doctors working in government hospitals are working very hard. Sometimes they are working for more than 8 hours. They are not able to cope up with the number of patients,” Justice Shinde said.
Objection of Additional Solicitor General
- Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, who appeared for the National Investigation Agency, submitted that JJ Hospital has sufficient facilities and thus, objected shifting to Nanavati hospital.
Bombay High Court orders to shift Varavara Rao to Nanavati Hospital from Taloja Jail.