Activist Varavara Rao, Who is “On His Deathbed”, Finally Shifted to Nanavati Hospital. He Still Doesn’t Have Bail

Arré Bench
·3-min read

The writer, poet, and activist Varavara Rao, who has been lodged in Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai since August 2018, will be shifted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai on the orders of the Bombay High Court. The last time Rao was allowed to leave the prison was in August this year, also to be admitted to Nanavati Hospital after the elderly prisoner contracted Covid-19. Now, as his health continues to worsen, the court has noted that he is almost on his deathbed, and directed the government to transfer him to the hospital so that he can receive treatment and his family can visit him.

The court was hearing a plea by Rao’s wife Hemlatha, seeking Rao’s release from jail as he was not receiving the proper medical attention at Taloja Jail. Hemlatha’s legal representative, Senior Counsel Indira Jaisingh, said in court, “He is bedridden having dementia and has developed severe urinary conditions. If he is not removed, he will lose his life in prison. It is going to be a case of custodial death.” The National Investigation Agency (NIA) maintained that the doctors at the jail were giving Rao the necessary treatment and regularly monitoring his health. Despite the NIA’s submission, the court directed that Rao be transferred to the hospital, and that the cost of his treatment be borne by the state government.

The court also directed NIA and the jail authorities to provide Rao’s wife with details of all the medical tests conducted to ensure Rao’s well-being while in jail.

Rao’s advanced age as an 80-year-old has led many to comment on the draconian measure to keep him imprisoned even as his health fails and he seeks bail.

Some have welcomed the Bombay High Court’s decision, as it provides some much-needed relief to the long-suffering Rao and his family.

While this hearing has only confirmed that Rao will be shifted to a hospital and not that he will be granted bail, the next hearing is set for 3 December.