Highlights

  • P Varavara Rao has sought a permanent bail on medical grounds owing to his 'old age' and 'deteriorating health'
  • Supreme Court has listed the plea for hearing on Tuesday
  • Earlier, the Bombay High Court rejected Rao's plea

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Bhima Koregaon case: SC lists Varavara Rao's plea for permanent medical bail on Tuesday

One of the accused in the case, tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, who was suffering from similar ailments as the petitioner, passed away even before the trial could start in 2021.

The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to list a medical bail plea for hearing on Tuesday filed by activist and an accused in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case, P Varavara Rao, challenging the Bombay High Court order rejecting his prayer for permanent medical bail in the matter.

A bench headed by Justice U.U. Lalit responded to Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who requested that he be allowed to place on record a compilation of documents and the matter be heard tomorrow.

"Allow me to place it on record and have it tomorrow. His interim protection is till tomorrow," Mehta told the bench, also comprising Justices S R Bhat and Sudhanshu Dhulia.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for Rao, said he has no objection to this. "Can it be taken up today? I am ready, my friend is ready. We can finish it today," Grover said.

In his plea filed through advocate Nupur Kumar against the April 13 order of the high court, Rao has said, "The petitioner is an 83-year-old renowned Telugu poet and orator, who has undergone over two years of incarceration as an under-trial, and is currently enlarged on bail on medical grounds by the Bombay High Court respectfully submits that any further incarceration would ring the death knell for him as an advancing age and deteriorating health are a fatal combination".

The plea said Rao has challenged the high court order as he was not granted an extension of bail despite his advanced age and precarious health condition, and his prayer to shift to Hyderabad was also denied.

One of the accused in the case, tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy, who was suffering from similar ailments as the petitioner, passed away even before the trial could start.

Also watch: Father Stan Swamy: human rights defender who was the 'oldest person charged with terror in India'

He was arrested on August 28, 2018 from his Hyderabad residence and is an under-trial in the Bhima Koregaon case for which an FIR was lodged by Pune police on January 8, 2018 under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

The case pertains 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 located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

The Pune police had also claimed that the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. Later, the National Investigation Agency took over the probe in the matter.

Initially, Rao said he was put under house arrest pursuant to an order of the apex court and ultimately, on November 17, 2018, he was taken into police custody and later, shifted to the Taloja jail. On February 22, 2021, the Bombay High Court had granted him bail on medical grounds and he was released from jail on March 6, 2021.

On April 13, the high court had rejected the plea but extended the time for the activist to surrender before the Taloja prison authorities by three months, to enable him to undergo cataract surgery. It had also dismissed Rao's application seeking that he be permitted to stay in Hyderabad instead of Mumbai, while out on bail.

With PTI inputs

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