The Bombay High Court on Monday asked the NIA and the Maharashtra government to inform it about the health condition of poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case, and if his family could be allowed to see him “from a reasonable distance”.
The directions came after Mr Rao’s lawyer told the court that the activist was “almost on his deathbed”.
Mr Rao, 81, is currently admitted in the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai. He tested positive for coronavirus earlier this month and is also suffering from several other ailments.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and SP Tavade asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the state to inform the court about Mr Rao’s health condition and clarify by July 22 whether his family members could be permitted to see him.
Mr Rao’s lawyer Sudeep Pasbola told the court that the activist was “almost on his deathbed” and that if he were to die, it should be in the presence of his family.
“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 Mr Rao be granted bail.
Mr Pasbola said Mr Rao was in no condition to cause any prejudice to the probe in the case and even the NIA could not dispute this fact.
The bench, however, asked if Mr Rao was in such a critical condition, wouldn’t it be counterproductive to move him out of the hospital, and take him to any other place?
“Also, if he has COVID-19, then how can he meet his family?” the court asked.