The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to get poet-activist Varavara Rao medically examined at Nanavati hospital in the city to check if he suffered from any ailments that warranted extension of his medical bail.
The HC also extended till December 18 the time for Rao to surrender before the Taloja prison authorities. As per HC's previous order, Rao was to have been medically examined on November 18, but the NIA told the court on Friday it was yet to get his medical check up done.
The NIA counsel Sandesh Patil said the delay was caused because several doctors were required to check Rao since the 83-year-old was "taking advantage of the court's order" and trying to get a comprehensive health check up done. "At the time of seeking medical bail earlier this year, he (Rao) had complained of cataract, hernia, and appendix. Now appendix and hernia are over and only cataract remains. But he is taking advantage of the court's order and trying to get all tests done," Patil said.
A bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and SV Kotwal, however, questioned the NIA's submission and said the agency must take a practical approach and consider Rao's advanced age.
"The point here is to see whether he is still unwell and requires to be on medical bail. Consider his age. Suppose the medical exam reveals he is suffering from something else. Then what will you (NIA) do," the HC said.
Rao, an accused in the Elgar-Parishad Maoist links case, was granted temporary bail on health grounds by HC in February this year. He was required to surrender before the Taloja prison authorities on September 5, but he approached HC through his counsels R Sathyanarayanan and senior counsel Anand Grover seeking an extension of such bail saying his health continued to be poor and that, if sent back to prison, it was likely to "revert to what it was" at the time when he was granted bail.
His plea for extension was opposed by the NIA. However, since September this year, HC has been extending Rao's date of surrender, initially due to its inability to hear the plea because of paucity of time, and since November 18, to grant the Central probe agency time to get him medically examined at the Nanavati hospital.
On Friday, advocate Grover told HC that, in compliance with its orders, Rao had been to the Nanvati hospital twice already but on both occasions NIA representatives had failed to appear and the doctors at the hospital "said they weren't sure if they could go on without the NIA." "The NIA wanted a medical examination, we didn't ask for it. I (Rao) have been there twice but NIA didn't come. I'll go whenever required," Grover said.
Patil then sought permission to get a representative of the hospital to explain the delay in conducting Rao's medical examination. The representative told the court that specialists, including a urologist and a psychiatrist, needed to evaluate Rao's condition and sought two weeks time to submit his comprehensive medical report before the court.
All parties submitted Rao will be examined and his medical report will be submitted before the court's registry in December 16, after which the HC said it will examine his bail plea on December 17, and that he need not surrender to prison authorities till December 18. Rao, in his plea, has said he continues to suffer from multiple ailments, including urinary tract infection with recurrent hyponatremia, suspicion of Parkinsons' disease, lacunar infarcts in six major lobes of the brain, and some eye problems.
He has claimed in his plea Taloja prison was not equipped to cater to his medical problems and his health would certainly deteriorate and he might die if sent back to jail, and sought his medical bail be extended for another six months.
-With PTI Inputs