After a nudge from the Bombay High Court, the Maharashtra government on Wednesday agreed to shift 81-year-old activist-poet Varavara Rao from Taloja Central jail hospital to Nanavati Hospital for 15 days for medical examination and treatment.
A Division Bench of justices S.S. Shinde and Madhav Jamdar conducted a physical hearing during vacation, terming it an urgent matter.
After senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for Mr. Rao, listed out the medical ailments he was suffering from and said that he needed to be treated for the same, the court insisted that Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare take instructions on the same.
Mr. Thakare informed the court that State Home Minister Anil Deshmukh had agreed to shift Mr. Rao to Nanavati Hospital for 15 days as a “special case” and not as a precedent.
While dictating the order, the court also allowed the family members to visit Mr. Rao and directed all medical reports to be submitted in court. The matter will now be heard on December 3.
The order came despite strong objections from Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing the National Investigation Agency. He argued that government-run hospitals were well-equipped to treat Mr. Rao and if this was allowed, all prisoners would seek special treatment. He said Mr. Rao could be shifted to J.J. Hospital.
However, Ms. Jaisingh interrupted and said the last time he was admitted to J.J. Hospital, he was found in a pool of urine. She added Nanavati Hospital was the choice of the State government, as he was admitted there initially.
While requesting for Mr. Rao to be shifted immediately, Ms. Jaisingh reiterated that if he died, it would be a custodial death. She read the report submitted by doctors of Nanavati Hospital on November 17, which recorded his age as 45. The report was prepared after examining Mr. Rao for 15 minutes through video conferencing.
Ms. Jaisingh read a previous report by Nanavati Hospital, which mentioned he had dementia, had had a heart attack, liver failure, kidney failure and was COVID-19-positive. She added multiple post-COVID complications could take place in an elderly person and Mr. Rao was already bedridden and had urinary tract infection because his catheter was not changed for three months.
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