MUMBAI: The state government on Wednesday told Bombay high court that it will immediately shift ailing Telugu poet P V Varavara Rao from Taloja prison hospital to Nanavati Superspeciality Hospital for further medical investigations and treatment.
“Dr P V Varavara Rao is not to be discharged by Nanavati hospital without informing this court,” a bench of Justices S S Shinde and Madhav Jamdar directed after “accepting” public prosecutor Deepak Thakare’s statement that the home minister has consented to this as a “special case.”
“State government is ready to treat him in Nanavati Hospital for two weeks,” Thakare said.
Earlier, the judges had asked the state to consider shifting Rao (80) to Nanavati, else they would pass an order on merits.
State backed shifting Rao to JJ, kin objected
“Ultimately the man who is almost on his deathbed wants to receive treatment. Can the State say “no, no, we’ll treat him in Taloja (hospital)?” asked Justice Shinde.
The court heard a petition by Rao’s wife P Hemalatha, through advocate R Sathyanarayanan Iyer, to release him on bail and also an interim plea to shift him to Nanavati hospital. Rao is an accused in the Elgar Parishad case and has been in prison since August 28, 2018.
Senior advocates Indira Jaising and Anand Grover, for Hemalatha, said that since May 2020, Rao’s health has steadily deteriorated and Taloja prison hospital does not have trained medical personnel and infrastructure. “If they can’t look after him, release him. His family will look after him,” Jaising said. She read a pathology report, outsourced by Taloja prison hospital, which referred to Rao “as 45 years male.”
Jaising said Rao, who was diagnosed with Covid-19 in July, risks multiple organ failure. She said he “is bedridden, in diapers, with a urine bag” and suffers from ailments, including of kidney, brain, liver, heart, dementia, low sodium level, and has urinary tract infection as the catheter has not been changed for three months. “It’s a shame I have to argue for limited relief,” she added. She said following HC’s November 12 order, he was evaluated by Nanavati hospital only for 15 minutes on videoconference, but not examined physically.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, for National Investigation Agency, opposed shifting of Rao to Nanavati hospital saying JJ hospital has all facilities to treat him. Thakare backed shifting Rao to JJ hospital. He said while the state has no objection to shifting him to a private hospital, it will not bear the costs. “Even though he is shifted to Nanavati Hospital, he will be in your custody. Where is the question of them (Rao’s family) bearing the expenses?” asked Justice Shinde. Jaising said Rao was found covered in urine in JJ Hospital for want of staff. The judges said that in the present Covid-19 situation, there is a lot of workload for the staff.
The judges, in their order, noted that in view of Thakare’s statement, “we do not feel it necessary to record the reasons.” When Jaising insisted on two caveats, the judges accordingly directed that the medical report from Nanavati shall be submitted to court in a sealed envelope and Rao will not be discharged without informing the court. They also directed that his family will be allowed to meet him subject to hospital protocol. The matter is posted on December 3 “for further consideration of other reliefs.”