Varavara Rao Seeking Bail Under Garb Of Pandemic, Old Age: Probe Agency NIA

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The application of Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case accused Varavara Rao for bail on health grounds was a mere “ruse” and he was trying to take undue benefit under the garb of the COVID-19 pandemic situation and his old age, the NIA has told the Bombay High Court.

His health condition was stable and he did not require treatment in a multi-specialty hospital, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) said in its affidavit on July 16, the day the 81-year-old activist tested positive for coronavirus.

Varavara Rao’s application of bail on health grounds thus, was a mere “ruse” and he was “trying to take undue benefit under the garb of current situation on account of global pandemic and his old age,” said the NIA, which is probing the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case.

The NIA also said in its affidavit that otherwise Varavara Rao won’t be eligible for bail only on merits of the case.

“The prison authorities have responded timely and provided necessary medical aid to the appellant accused Rao. The applicant accused was admitted to JJ Hospital for the complaint of giddiness on May 28 and after medical treatment, he was discharged on June 1 as he was found asymptomatic and haemodynamically stable,” it said.

Varavara Rao’s medical record and the report submitted by JJ Hospital’s superintendent did not suggest he was suffering from any such ailment which necessitated that he immediately obtain treatment in a multi-speciality hospital, the probe agency further said in its affidavit.

Varavara Rao is currently currently undergoing treatment for COVID-19 and other ailments at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai.

On July 20, the Bombay High Court heard Varavara Rao’s bail plea briefly. His lawyer Sudeep Pasbola told the court that Rao was “almost on his deathbed” and even the NIA could not dispute the fact that his health was very critical.

“His condition is very serious. He hit his head against the hospital bed while he was at the JJ hospital and sustained severe injuries. Besides COVID-19, he suffers from several ailments, he is hallucinating and is delirious,” Mr Pasbola said.

“His days are numbered and if he is to die, at least let him die in the presence of his family members,” the lawyer said while seeking that Varavara Rao be granted bail.

However, NIA’s counsel Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh told the court on July 20 that the state was “taking good care” of Varavara Rao and he had been admitted to one of the “best super-specialty hospitals in the city”.

The NIA is supposed to inform the court on Thursday if Varavara Rao’s family can be permitted to see him.

Last month, the NIA filed an almost similar affidavit opposing the bail application of Varavara Rao’s co-accused Sudha Bharadwaj, in the case.

It said the bail application “pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief which is not available to her otherwise on merits of the case.”

Varavara Rao and nine other activists have been arrested in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, which was initially probed by the Pune Police and later transferred to the NIA in January this year.

The case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial.

The police have also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.

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