Mumbai (Maharashtra) [India], February 22 (ANI): The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail for six months to P Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case who had sought bail on medical grounds citing his deteriorating health.
Rao has been at the private hospital in Mumbai since November 2020 when he was shifted after his health deteriorated in Taloja jail where he was lodged as an undertrial.
The 81-year-old Rao was arrested in 2018 in connection to the Bhima Koregaon case registered in Pune and has been in jail since. Last year, Rao contracted coronavirus and was admitted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai.
He has been granted bail on certain conditions, including that he has to remain in Mumbai and should be available for investigation. He is not allowed to talk to witnesses or interfere in the investigation process.
Speaking to ANI, advocate Anand Prakash said: "It is a historic judgment because for the first time in the history of independent India, and rightly so, the High Court of Bombay has said that a person who is actually ill and who can fall ill again due to lack of proper facilities in jail has to be released on bail."
"There are a number of conditions which are imposed, most of those conditions are normally imposed so the family has no problem. He has to be in Mumbai, he cannot interfere with the investigation, he cannot talk to witnesses and he has to report to the police and National Investigation Agency (NIA) court etc," he added.
Speaking to mediapersons, lawyer Indira Jaising stated: "From what I could hear, it is based on the right to life and liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and the fact that we were in a position to prove that he (Rao) has been repeatedly falling critically ill and, of course, the fact that Taloja jail does not have the necessary facilities to deal with it. I think that the court has accepted the argument that prisoners have fundamental rights and they have the right to help and to life and liberty. It is a big day."
She further said that many women imprisoned in connection to this case are suffering from severe medical ailments and jail authorities do not have the required facilities to deal with them.
Jaising also urged the media not to approach or persuade him for comment as Rao is not allowed to talk about the case in public.
Meanwhile, Rao's daughter Pavna Pendyala has welcomed the bail and said his family was happy.
Rao was arrested in November 2018 along with five others, for alleged links with Naxals and for allegedly making provocative speeches on December 31, 2017 that police claimed incited the violence at Bhima Koregaon village in Pune district the next day.
On January 1, 2018, the violence left one dead and several others injured including 10 policemen. Violence erupted after some people, reportedly with saffron flags, pelted stones at cars heading towards the village for the commemoration of 200 years of Bhima-Koregaon war on New Year's Day. The police had filed 58 cases against 162 people. (ANI)