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Bombay HC Denies Bail to Varavara Rao, Allows Video Medical Check-up for the Poet-activist

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The Bombay High Court on Thursday denied bail to poet-activist Varavara Rao, who was arrested in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case in July 2018.

The court asked for the latest medical reports to be submitted to help decide Rao’s bail plea. The last report submitted was from July, the court noted.

The court also ordered a panel of doctors from Mumbai’s Nanavati Hospital to examine Rao over video call and visit him physically at the jail, if necessary.

Rao’s wife had filed a bail petition on medical grounds at the Bombay High Court, after the Supreme Court told high courts to exercise their jurisdiction to uphold personal liberty during the hearing of Republic TV chief editor Arnab Goswami’s bail plea on Wednesday.

During Goswami’s bail hearing, Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Forget Arnab Goswami for a moment, we are a constitutional court…If we, as a constitutional court, do not lay down law and protect liberty, then who will? If we don’t interfere in this case today, we will walk on path of destruction. If left to me, I won’t watch the channel (Republic TV) and you may differ in ideology, but constitutional courts will have to protect such freedoms.”

Arguing that Rao’s health was rapidly deteriorating, as he has been suffering from dementia, senior advocate Indira Jaising, who represented Rao, said: “He is bedridden. He is in diapers… Is this man going to run away from justice?”

“I hesitate to make bold statements, but I don’t mind saying this that I apprehend he will lose his life if he continues in jail. He suffers from a neurological condition, he is bedridden, his catheter is not changed for more than 40 days,” she added.

The next hearing has been scheduled for November 16.

The 80-year-old poet-activist has been lodged in Taloja jail in Mumbai for over two years, under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, which allows detention without trial for years.

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