Varavara Rao to stay at pvt hospital in Mumbai till Jan 7: HC

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Mumbai, Dec 21 (PTI) Jailed poet-activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links' case, will continue to remain at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai till January 7 next year, as the Bombay High Court on Monday extended his stay at the private medical facility.

Rao, 81, has been receiving treatment for various ailments at the private hospital since last month following the intervention of the high court.

A bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik extended his stay at the Nanavati Hospital on Monday after adjourning the hearing on his bail plea, seeking release on medical grounds, till January 7.

The bench directed the Maharashtra government to submit a fresh medical report detailing Rao's health condition on the next date of hearing.

Rao's lawyer, Anand Grover, also informed the court that the activist's health condition was improving.

Grover told the court that Rao was still being monitored by the hospital staff as his blood pressure continued to fluctuate and he was giddy most of the time.

On the instructions from Rao's daughter, Grover also told the HC that Rao's family was 'satisfied' with the treatment being provided to him at the Nanavati Hospital.

While the Maharashtra government and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) urged the court to transfer Rao from Nanavati Hospital to the Taloja prison hospital in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, or the state-run J J Hospital here, the bench said it could not do so without going through his present medical reports.

'We find it difficult to discharge him (Rao) from Nanavati (hospital) and transfer him to Taloja jail. We cannot transfer him today. In the next hearing may be,' the HC said.

'We haven't seen his fresh report. We cannot rely on the previous report,' the bench said.

Rao has been in an out of the J J Hospital and the Taloja prison hospital since his arrest in June 2018.

On July 16 this year, he tested positive for COVID-19, after which he was shifted to the Nanavati Hospital.

He was discharged from the Nanavati Hospital following a final assessment report on July 30 and sent back to the Taloja prison.

Last month, he was admitted to the Nanavati Hospital again following the intervention of the bench of Justices Shinde and Karnik.

On November 18, the high court noted that Rao was 81 years' old, suffered from neurological ailments and also needed post-COVID-19 care after recovering from the viral infection.

A person was on death bed and in such circumstances the state government cannot say that he should be treated in the jail, the court had said.

Following the court's observations, the Maharashtra government on November 18 agreed to shift Rao from the Taloja prison to the Nanavati hospital and also to bear the expenses of his treatment.

Besides his bail plea on medical grounds, the bench is also hearing a writ petition filed by Rao's wife Hemlatha, alleging a breach of his fundamental rights due to his continued incarceration without adequate medical care.

Rao and some other Left-leaning activists were earlier arrested for alleged links with Maoists following the Elgar Parishad conclave in Maharashtra's Pune district on December 31, 2017. PTI AYA GK GK