Bhima Koregaon case: SC grants Varavara Rao bail on medical grounds

The Supreme Court of India granted bail to the Bhima Koregaon case accused, 84-year-old activist P Varavara Rao on medical grounds on Wednesday.

Although Rao had appealed for permanent bail on medical grounds, the apex court today granted him medical bail while deleting the extension for him to surrender within a span of three months.

While granting bail to Rao, a bench said that he shall not misuse liberty in any manner.

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The decision was made by a three-judge panel made up of Justices UU Lalit, Aniruddha Bose, and Sudhanshu Dhulia in response to Rao’s Special Leave Petition challenging the Bombay High Court’s decision to deny him permanent release due to his physical condition.

The bench took into consideration Rao’s age, his health issues, and the two and a half years he had in actual custody. The bench further highlighted that although a chargesheet had been filed, the case’s trial had not yet started and that the charges themselves had not yet been set.

The top court while seeking a response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) over Rao’s bail plea in the last hearing had extended the interim protection earlier granted to Rao on medical grounds.

Rao had moved the top court challenging the Bombay High Court’s order of April 13, which declined his request to stay at his home in Telangana. However, the high court extended the period of temporary bail for three months against the backdrop of medical reasons.

In the plea, Rao submitted before the top court that any further incarceration would ring the death knell for him against the backdrop of his advancing age and deteriorating health, which is a fatal combination.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

The Pune Police had also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) later took over the probe in the matter.

Rao was arrested on August 28, 2018 from his Hyderabad residence and is an under-trial in the case. An FIR was lodged by the Pune Police on January 8, 2018 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

(The story has been edited with inputs from the News Desk.)

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