Activist Varavara Rao, jailed in the Bhima Koregaon case, will be shifted to Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital for 15 days, the Bombay High Court ordered today in response to a plea filed by his wife. Representing Rao, senior lawyer Indira Jaising, said that the 80-year-old had sustained head injuries at the JJ Hospital.
"He is completely bed-ridden and has no medical attendant. He is in diapers and has a catheter. The catheter was not changed for three months, as there was no one to change it," Jaisingh informed the court. "There is a reasonable apprehension that he (Varavara Rao) will die in custody," Jaising said. "I am alleging negligence on the part of the state. If the state is unable to look after him, he needs to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital", she added.
The Bombay High Court, on November 17, directed the Maharashtra government to submit details about the jailed activist Varavara Rao's medical examination. The 81-year-old activist was arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.
The directions were issued after senior counsel Indira Jaising told the court that the reports provided to the family of the activist on November 17 did not have details of the tests conducted and had no mention of his neurology and urology reports. Rao's wife had sought that the activist should be shifted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, due to his "diminishing neurological and physical health condition".
The Maharashtra government, however, in its report said that Rao is "fully conscious and oriented".
Rao's lawyer, senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, told the court that the authorities had sent a one-page report via WhatsApp hours before the hearing of the teleconsultation carried out by the doctors. Calling it "an eyewash", Jaising informed the court that the state government was resorting to delaying tactics.
"The state has yet to get the tests done. Besides, the doctors examined Rao through the video link only for 15 minutes. He needs to be examined by specialists. A neurologist needs to examine him physically and these tests can't be done at the Taloja prison hospital," Jaising said.
"This report will have to be read in conjunction with the earlier report by Nanavati Hospital where he was admitted. It makes no mention of his (Rao's) co-morbidities and was submitted through examining him for barely 15 minutes through a teleconsultation. There is no report by a neurologist though he is suffering from dementia or a urologist. This is nothing but delay tactics and the report is a complete eyewash," Jaisingh informed the court.
Last week, a vacation bench, while hearing a plea filed by P Hemlatha, Rao's wife, had told the National Investigation Agency and Taloja jail authorities to allow his medical examination by doctors at Nanavati Hospital who had treated him earlier.
The Bombay HC deferred the hearing to November 18 citing 'technical difficulties' in the virtual hearing.
Rao was arrested in 2018 and since then he has been in and out of the government-run JJ Hospital in Mumbai. On July 16, Rao tested positive for COVID-19, after which he was shifted to the Nanavati hospital. He was then discharged on July 30 and sent back to the Taloja prison.