Mumbai: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Monday opposed poet-activist Varavara Rao's bail plea before the Bombay High Court, saying the Elgar Parishad case accused was being provided with the best possible medical aid and that the prison authorities would continue to offer him adequate medical treatment whenever required.
The 81-year-old accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case has been undergoing treatment at the Nanavati Hospital in the city since July 16 after he tested positive for coronavirus.
The HC, however, directed the state prison authorities to permit Rao's family members to contact him through video call.
He is also being treated for various other ailments, including a head injury that he sustained while at government- run JJ Hospital before he was shifted to Nanavati Hospital, a private facility.
A bench, led by Justice Amjad Sayed, was hearing a bail plea filed by Rao on health grounds before he contracted COVID-19.
On Monday, the NIA counsel, Additional Solicitor General, Anil Singh reminded the court that Rao had been denied bail on merit on previous occasions by the HC.
He added that "this was a case in which the petitioner (Rao) was involved in anti-national activities." "He (Rao) was shifted from JJ Hospital to Nanavati Hospital, one of the best super speciality hospitals in the city, at the family's request. Jail authorities are taking best care in prisons.
"They are taking safety precautions, following ICMR guidelines," Singh said.
"In the present case, jail authorities have taken best care, given best treatment so the family can't complain.
"Jail authorities have stated they will continue taking care (of Rao) so nothing remains in the petition," Singh said, urging the court to not allow Rao's bail plea.
At this, the court asked if Rao was in the ICU or in a "regular room" at the hospital, and if his condition required regular monitoring?
Rao's counsel R Satyanarayan told the court that Rao's family had no information on his health since the last video call they were permitted to make was on July 31.
Satyanarayan said that the hospital authorities had told the family they were "taking some legal advice" before they could pass on any information on Rao's condition to them.
The bench then said that Rao be permitted to contact his family through a video call in accordance with hospital protocol.
It directed the state prison authorities to permit Rao's family members to contact him through video call.
Following a previous order of another bench, the Nanavati Hospital had filed a report in court on August 10 detailing Rao's health condition and the treatment being given to him among other things.
Rao's family and the NIA both submitted that they were yet to receive the copies of the report.
The court, therefore, permitted the parties to receive copies of the report. It is likely to hear Rao's bail plea further after two weeks.