Bombay HC seeks fresh report on Varavara Rao’s health condition

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday sought for a fresh health report from Nanavati Hospital regarding the health of jailed poet-activist Varavara Rao. Rao is an undertrial prisoner, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. His health has been deteriorating and he has dementia. 

The case was heard by Justices Sambhaji Shiwaji Shinde and Manish Pitale. On Wednesday, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Anil Singh, while demanding Rao to be shifted back to the prison, argued that the latest report by the Nanavati Hospital shows that the octogenarian is “clinically well” and his “vitals were stable.” 

Rao has been availing treatment in Nanavati Hospital since November last year. He tested positive for COVID-19 and has also been experiencing delirium, according to his family.

Reading out the medical report, the ASG said that the health report makes no mention of dementia to which Justice Sambhaji Shiwaji Shinde responded, “Go through the JJ Hospital report, it talks about dementia. Dementia once it is there...maybe it continues in lesser form.”

Arguing on behalf of Rao, advocate Indira Jaising pointed out that the St George’s Hospital report also mentions dementia. She also made a note of the Nanavati Hospital report that states that Rao suffers from brain atrophy, which is characterised by the loss of neurons in the brains and the connections between them. Depending on its spread (generalised or focal), it can decrease the function in the area that part of the brain controls.

Raising apprehensions about the demand of the ASG to shift Rao to the prison ward, Justice Shinde was quoted as saying by LiveLaw, “See the list of medicines he is being given on day (20). The Nanavati report will show he's on continuous medical support. Thakre (public prosecutor) is saying he will be kept with 20 other prisoners in JJ Hospital. But see the medicines required.” 

However, the ASG persisted saying that Rao was given medicines only for age-related ailments and not dementia.

On behalf of Rao, advocate Anand Grover said that the poet activist’s clinical assessment demonstrated that though Rao’s cognitive skills are intact, it does mean they are not there. “It is like COVID, I may not be showing clinical symptoms, but I may be COVID positive,” he said, according to Bar & Bench.

After hearing the arguments, the court directed the Nanavati Hospital to give a fresh health report by 11 am on Thursday. The hearing will begin at 2.30 pm.