The Bombay High Court on Thursday extended till December 2, the time granted to poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar-Parishad-Maoist links case who is currently out on medical bail, to surrender before the Taloja prison authorities in Maharashtra.
Rao, 83, had been granted interim bail for six months on medical grounds by the HC on February 22 this year. He was scheduled to surrender and return to judicial custody on September 5.
However, the poet-activist filed an application through his lawyers R Sathyanarayanan and senior counsel Anand Grover, seeking extension of medical bail. He also sought permission to stay in his hometown of Hyderabad while out on bail.
On Thursday, Grover told a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and SV Kotwal that while out on bail, Rao’s health condition deteriorated and he had been admitted to privately-run Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai for treatment from November 6 to November 16.
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Grover urged the HC to extend the octogenarian’s medical bail by four months.
On previous hearings, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had opposed Rao’s plea for extension of medical bail and shifting to Hyderabad, saying his medical reports do not indicate that he suffers from any serious ailment.
On Thursday, NIA counsel Sandesh Patil told the court that Rao must restrict his prayer in present petition to extension of his medical bail.
Patil said the accused must be directed to file a separate petition to seek other reliefs, including the permission to shift to his hometown while on bail.
The HC adjourned further hearing on Rao’s plea to November 29.
It directed the Nanavati Hospital to submit Rao’s latest health reports by the next date of hearing and added that the poet needn’t surrender before the authorities in Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail till December 2.
As part of the stringent conditions imposed on his interim bail by the HC in February, Rao is not allowed to leave Mumbai and hence he has been staying with his wife at a rented accommodation in the city.
At the time he was granted bail, Rao had been undergoing treatment for multiple ailments at the Nanavati Hospital, where he had been admitted by the prison authorities following the HC’s intervention.
The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the city’s outskirts.
The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named accused, was later transferred to the NIA.