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New Delhi: The Bombay high court on Thursday said poet-activist Varavara Rao need not surrender before the Taloja prison authorities until October 28.
The court also said it will hear on October 26 his plea seeking extension of the bail granted to him.
Eighty-two-year-old Rao has been held along with 15 other scholars, lawyers and activists in the Elgar Parishad case, with which first the Pune Police and now the National Investigation Agency has claimed they are connected. Several held are suffering from serious diseases. Awaiting trial in the case, 84-year-old Father Stan Swamy passed away recently, with many condemning the neglect he suffered under the prison system.
Rao was granted interim bail for six months on medical grounds by the HC on February 22 this year. He was scheduled to surrender and return to judicial custody on September 5.
Rao filed an application last month through his lawyer R. Sathyanarayanan and senior counsel Anand Grover, seeking extension of the bail. He also sought permission to stay in his hometown Hyderabad while out on bail, citing rising costs of remaining in Mumbai. As part of the stringent conditions imposed on his interim bail by the HC, Rao has been staying with his wife at a rented accommodation in Mumbai.
At the time when he was granted bail, an ailing Rao was undergoing treatment for multiple ailments at the city-based Nanavati Hospital, a private medical facility, where he had been admitted by the state prison authorities following the HC’s intervention.
The NIA, however, opposed Rao’s plea for extension of medical bail and shifting to Hyderabad, saying his medical reports “do not indicate that he suffers from any serious ailment.”
The NIA also said in its affidavit that the Taloja prison, located in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, had adequate health care facilities and Rao can be provided with the “best medical facilities” in the prison.
The Bombay high court on September 6 had adjourned till September 24 the hearing on the plea for interim bail extension.
On Thursday, a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and S.V. Kotwal extended the time granted to Rao to surrender until October 28, and said it will hear his plea further on October 26.
In his plea seeking extension of medical bail and modification of bail conditions, Rao had said that as per doctors at the Nanavati Hospital, he is suspected to have a neurological issue, known as cluster headache, that needs further examination.
Rao further said in the plea that 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 said in his plea that if he returned to custody in the Taloja prison, that was not equipped to cater to his medical problems, his health would certainly deteriorate and he might die.
Thus, he sought that his medical bail be extended for another six months.
(With PTI inputs)