Division Bench Of BHC Will Hear Political Prisoner Varavara Rao’s Plea To Travel For Surgery

Mumbai, June 6, 2023: The Bombay High Court on Monday directed Telugu poet and political prisoner Varavara Rao, who is an accused in the Elgar Parishad case, to approach a division bench of the high court with his plea to get cataract surgery done free-of-cost in Hyderabad, Telangana state.

A single-judge bench of Justice Sarang V Kotwal observed that Rao’s plea was essentially for modification of bail granted to the applicant by the division bench. Therefore, in view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the matter would lie only before the division bench comprising two judges, the judge stated.

The plea will now be converted into an appeal and is likely to be heard by a division bench led by Justice Ajey S Gadkari in due course.

In his plea, Rao stated that the trial court failed to consider the grounds on which he sought permission and that the surgery was expensive in Mumbai. Rao claimed that he was entitled to free medical treatment up to Rs 2 lakh in Telangana as he is a pensioner.

On April 27, a single-judge bench of Justice Amit Borkar had sought a response from the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on Rao’s plea and had also asked the NIA lawyer to verify whether Rao’s claims about free treatment were factually correct. “Because that is the crux of this matter,” Justice Borkar had said.

In February 2021, the high court granted him medical bail for six months. Though it was extended from time to time, the high court in April 2022 rejected his prayer for permanent bail and asked him to surrender within three months. The Supreme Court then deleted the condition to surrender but directed that he should not leave Mumbai without the NIA special court’s nod.

After the Supreme Court order, Rao approached a special NIA court seeking to travel and stay in his hometown Hyderabad for three months for medical treatment. The special court rejected the plea on September 23, 2022, after which Rao challenged the order in the high court in November.

Rao’s plea contended that his family members are doctors and one of them is an ophthalmologist who can provide better care to him. The plea added that Rao’s experience with government hospitals in Mumbai had been abysmal and the same was considered by the high court while granting him temporary medical bail in 2021. He also contended that private hospitals are costly, where he cannot afford cataract operation.

Source : https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/elgaar-parishad-case-hc-division-bench-varavara-rao-cataract-surgery-hyderabad-8646723/