The court has said that Varavara Rao has to stay within the jurisdiction of the Special NIA Court for the six-month period.
The Bombay High Court on Monday granted bail to Telugu poet Varavara Rao for six months on the condition that the 81-year-old has to stay within the jurisdiction of the Special NIA Court and that he will not indulge in any activities or similar activities which led to the registering of the FIR against him. The court also said that Varavara Rao, who was jailed in connection with the Bhima Koregaon Elgar Parishad case, has to report back to Navi Mumbai’s Taloja jail at the end of six months where he can either surrender or seek an extension.
“With all humility and human considerations, we are of the opinion that this is a fit case for allowing the relief. We feel that with the condition of the under trial, it would be inappropriate to send him back. It would be appropriate to impose such conditions. Varavara Rao has to attend trial whenever necessary, but can apply for exemption from physical appearance,” a bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale said according to a report from Bar and Bench.
The bench, however, imposed several stringent conditions on Rao’s bail. The HC said it was mindful of the NIA’s apprehension that once out on bail, Rao might do something to adversely impact the probe into the case. Hence, it directed Rao to stay in Mumbai, within the jurisdiction of the NIA court in the city.
The bench also said Rao must deposit a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties of the like amount. It also prohibited Rao from establishing contact, or making national or international phone calls to his co-accused or even anyone else engaged in “similar activities”.
The Bombay High Court had earlier said that the NIA and the Maharashtra government should consider the age and health of the poet-activist while making submissions on his bail plea. The court had also remarked that a speedy trial was considered a fundamental right of a citizen and in the present case, charges were yet to be framed and 200 witnesses were still yet to be examined.
Varavara Rao was among the many human rights activists were arrested in 2018 for alleged links with Maoists following the Elgar Parishad meeting held in Maharashtra’s Pune district on December 31, 2017. The case related to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the ‘Elgar Parishad’ conclave, 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 police have claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. Several activists and academicians have been named as accused in the case. The case was initially probed by the Pune police and later it was handed over to the NIA.
Rao was being treated at the state-run JJ Hospital ever since his arrest in June 2018. Following the HC’s directions, he was being given treatment at Nanavati hospital.
Apart from Rao’s bail plea, a petition has also been filed by his wife, where she has alleged that Varavara Rao’s continuous imprisoning without adequate medical care is impeding his fundamental right to life guaranteed by the Constitution of India.