The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted regular bail to 82-year-old Telugu poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the alleged Bhima Koregaon case, keeping in view his age and deteriorating health condition but imposed certain conditions on him.
A three-judge Bench headed by Justice U U Lalit and also comprising Justices Aniruddha Bose and Sudhanshu Dhulia passed the order after hearing an appeal filed by Rao seeking regular bail.
The court, however, said that Rao shall not leave Mumbai and imposed many other conditions on him.
“He (Rao) should not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without express permission from the Special NIA Court at Mumbai and that he shall not in anyway misuse his liberty nor shall he get in touch with any of the witnesses or try to influence the course of investigation.
“He shall be entitled to medical attention of his choice, but shall keep the NIA authorities in touch with any such developments, including the medical attention received by him,” it said in its order.
“The medical condition of the appellant (Varavara Rao) has not improved to such an extent over a period of time that the facility of bail granted earlier be withdrawn. The appellant is entitled to relief of bail on medical bail. We delete the condition limiting relief in terms of time,” the court said.
Rao was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the Bhima Koregaon case in which he is being prosecuted for allegedly indulging in anti-national activities.
Rao had moved the Supreme Court and filed an appeal challenging the order of the Bombay High Court, which had dismissed his bail plea.
The Bench noted that this court won’t go into the rival contentions since the appellant is 82 years old and has spent two-and-a-half years in custody.
Though the charge sheet has been filed, some of the accused are still not apprehended and the petitions by some accused seeking discharge are pending consideration, the court noted.
Senior advocate Anand Grover appearing for Rao submitted that the trial has not started and it will at least take 10 years to finish if even it starts today.
The appellant takes 13 medicines daily for neurological problems, cholesterol, blood pressure and many other ailments. He has been suffering from constant headaches, known as cluster headaches, and needs further examinations and constant supervision.
He has retention problems, movement disorders with tremors and gait instability, Grover argued.
Additional Solicitor General S V Raju, appearing for the NIA, submitted in reply to a query that the maximum punishment that Rao may get in the case is death sentence as he is involved in the Unlawful Activities and Prevention Act (UAPA).
Raju told the court that the health of the accused has improved.
Raju argued that the claim that Rao was suffering from Parkinson’s disease was not correct. “Nothing serious”, he said about the health condition of Rao after referring to medical records.
He told the court that the age of the accused was not a factor given the seriousness of the offence alleged.