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Varavara Rao Bail Plea: COVID No Excuse for Political Prisoners?

Is it ethical for Bhima Koregaon accused Varavara Rao to be refused interim bail in this pandemic? 

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Should we be looking at heath conditions or the gravity of offense for prisoners seeking interim bail on health grounds in view of the pandemic?

Questions on whether it's right or wrong to keep vulnerable undertrial prisoners in jail have come up with the case of 79-year-old Telugu poet Varavara Rao who's been imprisoned since the last two years over his alleged involvement in the Bhima Koregaon case.

Rao had filed for an interim bail citing his frail health and susceptibility to COVID-19 in March, but a special NIA court rejected the plea. The court rejected it again for the second time in June. And then on 16 July, Rao tested positive for COVID-19.

But the NIA which is probing his case not only opposed the bail plea in the Bombay High Court, they also called it a "ruse" and accused him of taking "undue benefit" of COVID-19. This despite the SC order on decongesting jails.

Is it ethical for an for an undertrial prisoner to be refused bail on health grounds in this situation? What did Supreme Court say about releasing undertrial prisoners to decongest jails and and why are people like Rao made to be an exception?

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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