Must guard rights, says Bombay High Court, gives Varavara Rao bail

THE Bombay High Court Monday granted bail for six months to Varavara Rao, 82, held within the Elgar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, saying not doing so would quantity to the court docket “abdicating” its “constitutional duty” because the “protector of human rights” and a violation of the elemental proper to well being derived from the proper to life in Article 21 of the Constitution.

Turning down an attraction by the NIA for a three-week keep on the operation of the order, the excessive court docket granted bail to the poet-activist on well being grounds, on a private bond of Rs 50,000. Rao, who has been beneath custody awaiting trial since August 2018, was advised to give up after completion of the bail interval of six months, or apply for an extension relying upon his well being situation, supported by medical studies. An attraction by Rao to be allowed to return to Hyderabad, nonetheless, was turned down.

Rao is presently in Nanavati Hospital, and can be discharged relying upon his situation.

In a 92-page order, a Division Bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale stated, “Taking any other view in the matter (apart from bail) would amount to diluting rights available to prisoners to claim relief on health grounds under Article 21 of the Constitution, particularly when material available on record indicates that continued incarceration of such persons would amount to endangering their life… We are of the opinion that this court, as a constitutional court, cannot be a mute spectator to the undertrial being sent to prison and then to government hospitals where his health deteriorates further, to be ultimately shifted to private super-speciality hospitals, upon intervention of courts, and such movements of the undertrial continue back and forth only because his bail application has been turned down on merits under Section 43D (5) of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.”

The Bench stated they had been granting the reduction “with all humility at their command, keeping in mind human consideration, the well-recognised fundamental rights of the undertrial to have quality medical aid… inadequate facilities in the Taloja Jail hospital”. “We are of the opinion that this is a genuine and fit case to grant relief, or else we will be abdicating our constitutional duty and function as a protector of human rights and right to health covered under right to life,” the court docket stated.

The court docket noticed that the hospital connected to the Taloja Central Prison and the jail ward of J J Hospital are “ill-equipped and inadequate” to handle Rao’s well being and sending him again to the jail would “certainly endanger his life” and would “run the risk of deterioration of his health to the point of no return”.

On Rao’s plea that he be allowed to return to his house in Hyderabad, the Bench stated, “… although the material on record does show that the health condition of the undertrial is precarious, sending the undertrial back to where he belongs is fraught with the risk of his presence being used by those allegedly associated with him to seek to revive nefarious activities… therefore, it would be appropriate to impose such conditions as would be necessary for ensuring that the undertrial on his own or those allegedly associated with him do not take undue advantage of the situation, which would ultimately adversely affect the trial.”

Rao has to stay inside the jurisdiction of the Special NIA Court, Mumbai, and be obtainable for investigation. The Bench added, “However, he may apply for exemption from personal appearance.” He can do his fortnightly check-in with the closest police station on WhatsApp name.

Rao has handy over his passport in addition to share with the High Court particulars concerning his tackle throughout the bail interval, and his personal contact quantity in addition to of others staying with him. “The undertrial shall not try to establish communication with the co-accused or any other person involved directly or indirectly in similar activities or make any international call to any person indulging in similar activities as alleged against him through any mode of communication,” the court docket stated. It additionally instructed Rao to not maintain gatherings of holiday makers other than close to relations.

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