The medical bail of Varavara Rao, the 82-year-old Telugu poet and activist, who is an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, has been extended till December 20 as the private hospital asked to examine him has sought two weeks to carry out multiple tests, Live Law reported.
The Bombay High Court, on Friday, granted Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital in Mumbai till December 16 to conduct the tests and submit a report.
Rao and 15 other activists and scholars, who backed an annual celebration at Bhima Koregaon village in Maharashtra in January 2018 to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima Koregaon, were arrested under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act after violence broke out at the gathering. Accused of having Maoist links, they have all been awaiting trial for the last three years.
Rao was first detained in August 2018 and was later kept under house arrest. He was taken into custody again in November of the same year.
The poet tested positive for Covid-19 in July 2020 and was admitted to the State-run JJ Hospital. Since then, his health has deteriorated rapidly. He has been suffering from dementia as well.
On grounds of medical concern, his wife had filed a bail petition at the Bombay High Court and Rao was granted interim bail of six months in February 2021 and finally released in March.
Rao, who was supposed to surrender at the end of this bail term, had filed for an extension and also sought permission to reside in Hyderabad with his family. The Bombay High Court had initially extended his bail till September 25.
Later, his bail had been extended until November 18, and then again till December 2.
At the November 18 hearing, the court had ordered Nanavati Hospital to examine Rao afresh since he was admitted to the hospital between November 6 and 16.
Due to confusion on who would bear the expense for the examination, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had failed to comply and on Monday, the agency was once again directed to take Rao to a private hospital for medical examination.
On the same day, Rao had filed a fresh writ petition seeking permission to move to Hyderabad, citing the higher living cost and medical expenses in Mumbai. He had further added that his cataract, Parkinson’s and umbilical hernia, all required constant medical intervention. He also mentioned that he had recently undergone surgery for hernia, post which he needed a full-time caretaker.
During the hearing on Friday, the hospital representative said that Rao needs to be assessed by a neurologist, nephrologist and a psychiatrist as well. The poet’s representative noted that Rao would be produced at court whenever required.
While the NIA initially opposed the two-week duration sought for the tests, the agency later agreed to let the hospital take a call on the necessary medical investigations.
The next hearing in the matter is scheduled for December 17.