New Delhi: Dr. P. Varavara Rao’s wife, Pendaya Hemlatha, has moved the Supreme Court in a writ petition for the immediate release of her husband basis medical grounds.
It is stated that his continued custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution of India and violative of his dignity in custody.
Filed on behalf of Senior Advocate Sunil Fernandes, the writ petition preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution states that Rao’s immediate release is pertinent from Taloja Central Jail, Maharashtra as his health condition is very feeble and that he suffers from various co-morbodities and not every person with Covid19 has similar symptoms.
“….there is no positive treatment for COVID-19 and the infection continues to spread viciously and neither there is any vaccine nor is there any medicine to arrest the said disease,” petitioner states.
Elaborating on the health issues of Rao, the plea states that the letter dated 09.09.2020 received from co-Accused, Vernon Gonsalves also reflects that the condition of the Petitioner’s husband is not normal.
“His letter states that due to lack of bowel and urine control, the Petitioner’s husband has a catheter urine bag and has to use diapers and is being given swab baths by the co-accused as he is basically bed-ridden.
The said letter of his co-accused also mentions that at the time the Petitioner’s husband was sent to judicial custody in November 2018, he weighed around 68 kgs and his weight is now around 50 kgs which shows drastic weight loss. Thus, there is no purpose in detaining him in prison any further,” the plea states.
It is further averred that Dr. Varavarao Rao is 81 years old and the question that would arise is whether the jail would have necessary facilities to take care of him.
“The treatment meted out to Dr. Varavara impairs the Right to Health recognized under Article 12 of International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which are read with Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The rights enshrined under ICCPR and ICESCR have to be read with Article 21 and other rights under Chapter III of the Constitution of India.”
- Plea in SC
Pointing to the legal aspects, it is further states that even otherwise, the mandate prescribed under Section 21(2) of the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008 stipulates that the appeal should be disposed within 3 months from the date of admission of the Appeal.
It is stated that since the chance of commencement of trial in the immediate future is bleak and charges are yet to be framed and there is no bar to grant bail on health grounds under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or the National Investigation Act, his release can basis temporary bail can be granted.
“The Respondents are solely responsible for the deterioration of the Petitioner’s husband’s health by denying timely and proper medical treatment to ensure that there is no deterioration in his condition.
The discharge of the Petitioner’s husband from J.J. Hospital on 01.06.2020 is itself was wrongful denying him rightful treatment which the Respondents are bound in law to provide,” states the petitioners.
In this backdrop, seeking his temporary bail on medical grounds, the plea has further prayed that Dr. Rao be allowed to travel to Hyderabad to be with his family and loved ones.
Dr. Varavarao Rao has been in custody since August 2018 in relation to the Bhima Koregaon Incident. He is accused of offences alleged u/s. 121, 121-A, 124- A, 153-A, 505 (1) (b), 117, 120-B r/w 34 of the Indian Penal Code and Sections 13, 16, 17, 18, 18-B, 20, 38, 39, 40 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.