While recently dismissing the permanent bail plea of 83-year-old Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, the Bombay High Court has said that the Telugu poet’s clinical summary showed he did not need continued medical care. As such a medical summary went against Rao’s interest, it was only natural for him to “find ways and means to wriggle out of the medical report” and dispute its findings, said HC.
A division bench of Justices SB Shukre and GA Sanap had dismissed Rao's pleas on April 14 this year. However, the detailed judgement copy was made available on Friday.
Rao had filed three different applications – seeking permanent bail, in the alternate seeking extension of medical bail and permission to stay at Hyderabad while out on medical bail.
A clinical summary dated December 15, 2021, based on Rao’s medical examination at Nanavati hospital said that he was fit for discharge. Rao’s counsel, Anand Grover, argued that the report failed to provide reasons for such a conclusion. Also, the report was silent on Rao's previous clinical diagnosis of early Parkinson's disease that was made at another private hospital in the city.
NIA, opposing the plea had contended that Rao had been treated at a private hospital of his choice and now that he was deemed fit for discharge by the doctors there, there was no question of extending his medical bail or granting him permanent medical bail.
The court noted that it could not ignore the fact that Rao was facing “serious charges” under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, including the charge of having conspired to overthrow the union government. “The allegations levelled against the accused about his involvement in the commission of crime have remained unchanged,” said HC.
“It is a matter of record that the clinical opinion is against the accused. It does not suit the purpose of the accused. Therefore, it is but natural for the accused to find the ways and means to wriggle out of this report,” said HC. It further added: “The accused has, therefore, blamed the doctors and NIA Officials. In our view, this cannot be accepted.”
The judges have, however, taken note of Rao’s claim of lack of medical facilities at the Taloja prison, and poor hygiene conditions there.
The HC has, hence, directed the Maharashtra Inspector General of prisons to submit a "candid" report by April 30 on the state of such facilities, and the appointment of doctors and medical staff at all the prisons in the state at the Taloja prison in particular.
“The IG prisons must ensure that henceforth, there remain no grounds for inmates to raise grievances on inadequate health facilities in prisons across the state,” the court added.
The HC has added: “In our view, if corrective measures are adopted, then the grievance made by the accused in this case, as well as grievances in prisons all over Maharashtra could be taken care of… It is the duty of the Inspector General of prisons to ensure compliance with the Prisons Act and Rules. The IG will be held accountable for non-compliance and lapses in future.”
The Special NIA court has been directed to expedite the trial in the Elgar-Parishad case and to conduct the trial proceedings on a day to day basis.