Mumbai court refuses bail to Varavara Rao on health grounds

Mumbai: A special court in Mumbai on Friday for the second time rejected the interim bail pleas filed by 81-year-old activist and poet Varavara Rao and academic 61-year-old Shoma Sen on medical grounds as they were suffering from multiple ailments or comorbidities. The detailed order is yet to be made available.

Judge SE Kothalikar heard submissions in support of both the interim medical bail applications and reserved the order in the afternoon session. The order rejecting the bail pleas was passed late in the evening. Previously, Judge Kothalikar had also rejected the same application filed by activist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj who also sought bail on medical grounds.

Appearing for the National Investigation Agency, Special Public Prosecutor Prakash Shetty opposed the bail applications and submitted that the High Power Committee (HPC) constituted by the State government on orders of the Supreme Court excluded those undertrials/prisoners accused under special enactments like Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, from being released on temporary bail for decongestion of prisons in light of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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Both, Varvara Rao lodged at Taloja jail and Shoma Sen lodged at Byculla jail, are being provided medical treatment inside the jail and therefore they need not be released.

According to the bail applications, Shoma Sen suffers from multiple ailments like osteoarthritis, glaucoma and high blood pressure, whereas the elder Varavara Rao suffers from pre-existing medical conditions like Coronary Artery Disease, Hypertension and he was even admitted to a hospital on May 27 after he complained of dizziness and fainted.

Advocate Sharif Shaikh appeared on behalf of Sen and Advocate R Satyanarayan for Rao. Both submitted that pre-existing medical conditions make their clients more vulnerable to the deadly coronavirus.

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At Taloja jail two inmates have tested positive so far and one inmate has tested positive at Byculla jail. They had previously filed applications seeking interim bail on medical grounds but they were rejected.

Both the applicants along with eleven others have been accused of having maoist links and inciting the caste based violence near Koregaon Bhima on the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Koregaon Bhima that took place on January 1, 2018.

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