80-year-old poet and activist Varavara Rao has been shifted from Taloja Jail to Nanavati Hospital after the Bombay High Court’s order on Wednesday which allowed him to be moved to the private hospital for medical examination for 15 days. The move reportedly happened late on Wednesday night, Hindustan Times reported, quoting an official.
At Wednesday’s hearing in the high court, appearing for Rao, senior advocate Indira Jaising argued that he would not receive proper care at a government hospital, reminding the court that while death was inevitable, the exit could take place in a dignified manner.
The state government will take care of the cost of the examination and his family will also be allowed to meet him, as per hospital rules.
WHAT DID THE BENCH SAY?
“Prosecutor Deepak Thakare took instructions from the home minister of the state that as a special case, the petitioner can be sent to Nanavati Hospital for medical investigation and treatment for 15 days,” the court reportedly noted in its order.
The matter will be heard on 3 December now. Rao, who is currently incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case and has been in jail since late 2018, cannot be discharged without the court being informed. His medical reports will also have to be submitted to the court.
“Ultimately, the man is on almost death bed. He needs some treatment. Can the state say no no we will treat him in Taloja? We are only saying transfer him to Nanavati for two weeks. We will further see after two weeks. [sic]”Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar, as quoted by Live Law
WHAT DID THE COUNSELS ARGUE IN COURT?
Arguing on behalf the ailing poet, Jaising said that he had sustained head injuries at JJ Hospital where he was admitted when diagnosed with COVID-19, NDTV reported.
“He is completely bed-ridden, and has no medical attendant. He is in diapers and has a catheter. The catheter was not changed for three months, as there was no one to change it,” Jaising said about Rao.
Alleging negligence by the State, Jaising asked for Rao to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital.
Additional solicitor general Anil Singh, appearing for the National Investigation Agency, however, opposed Jaising’s plea and said that Rao could be shifted to J J Hospital.
When asked by the bench if he would admit his own relatives there for treatment, Singh said that people were still getting treated at the hospital and added that shifting Rao to the Nanavati Hospital would set a wrong precedent.
To this, Jaising objected and said when admitted at JJ Hospital, Rao had been found lying in a pool of urine, indicating that the hospital was unable to take proper care of the poet.
"... he is being detained in cruelty. Death is inevitable. But everyone wants to exit in a dignified manner,” Jaising said, arguing that Rao’s condition is dire.
“He has brain atrophy, his kidneys have failed.. what more do I need to show? We do not have clinical reports to show your Lords... I can establish from the reports that his kidney has failed, his liver has failed, brain atrophy...This is a man who cannot even stand.”Indira Jaising
According to LiveLaw, Jaising pointed out that no medical report of Varavara Rao is available since 30 July of this year, and no discharge report exists from when he left hospital in August.
"Till today Nanavati discharge report is not made available to the family. Only those reports will tell us what action has been taken or not taken. Nanavati Hospital discharge report, JJ hospital and St George Hospital discharge reports are not available," she said.
The court eventually observed that Rao’s case would be seen as a special case and not as a precedent.
WHAT HAPPENED EARLIER?
Earlier, the Bombay HC was supposed to hear the matter on Tuesday, however, due to technical difficulties, the judges were unable to hear Rao’s lawyer, senior advocate Indira Jaising, clearly via video conferencing.
Jaising had earlier argued that the report submitted by the NIA and jail authorities on Rao’s medical condition a few hours before the hearing was “an eyewash”.
She said that the teleconsultation had only been conducted for 15 minutes, with no assessment of Rao’s neurological condition, without a neurologist or urologist present (even though his primary illnesses were dementia and urine infection), and that several test results that had been recommended by the doctors at this time and previously, had not been included.
Last week on 12 November, the Bombay High Court while hearing a plea filed by P Hemlatha, Rao’s wife, ordered an immediate medical examination of the poet.
Rao’s lawyers have argued that his medical condition is serious, and there is a genuine risk to his life under the status quo, which sees him attended by two of his co-accused in the case, and suffering from a form of dementia along with other illnesses.
(With inputs from Live Law, NDTV and Bar & Bench.)
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