MUMBAI: The National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Thursday said it was opposed to Elgar Parishad accused P Varavara Rao’s bail on medical grounds given the seriousness of the allegations against him but said that the Bombay high court may impose conditions on the state to ensure adequate medical care and facilities to him in Taloja prison.
The Additional solicitor general (ASG) said, “My argument is that instead of imposing conditions on him, impose conditions on the state. On how he must be kept in the prison ward, we will be bound by the conditions.”
A bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale said, “We must consider law and humanity and then we must strike a balance.’’
The HC is hearing Rao’s plea for bail on medical grounds and his wife’s petition for his liberty on grounds of violation of his fundamental rights, including right to life.
Rao said the care recommended is “not available at Taloja prison”. He said a host of family doctors were available if he was sent home to Hyderabad.
The matter has been adjourned to next week.
The Nanavati super speciality private hospital, where Rao is currently admitted at, since November 2020, in its report on Thursday said his “vitals are stable’’ and “fit for discharge’’. The HC had on Wednesday sought a fresh report on Rao, 81, who complained of chest pains earlier this month.
The report said, “At present there is no active intervention required for the patient. As of January 27, 2021, the patient has no fresh complaints…medical treatment is continued as is.’’ It listed 12 medicines he is on.
The ASG said, “he certainly must not be granted bail’’ and asked the HC to consider the seriousness of the charges against him. “The allegations are so serious.’’
Justice Shinde said, “that is why there is a distinction between regular and medical bail.’’
Singh, persisted. “But this is a matter of national security.’’ The Judges too. “That is why’’ they said they had asked him to spell out what the “apprehension’’ was.
Rao, alleged to have Maoist links, faces stringent charges under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).
The judges at one point asked Singh that since Rao is an octogenarian, can the court not take it a step further and ask “what the quality of life’’ of such a person can be.
The court observed, “when it comes to fundamental rights of prisoners, it is not an adversarial litigation.’’ “it is for the state and investigating agency if something happens…it is a matter of concern.’’
To this, Singh said, “the health of a person will not remain the same every time’’ and gave the example of the much younger Saurav Ganguly’s recent brush with a health scare. He also said the court cannot consider a “hypothetical’’ future situation to grant bail.
He cited from the Bombay HC judgment by a bench led by Chief Justice which in a PIL by People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) had directed that the state to scrupulously follow guidelines issued by the Indian Council of Medical Research. That Judgment during the Covid-19 lockdown had also noted that inmates have a right to life with human dignity.