Mumbai, November 18: The Bombay High Court Wednesday allowed Telugu writer-poet Varavara Rao, accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, to seek treatment at Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai for 15 days. Rao, who is lodged at Taloja central jail, will be shifted to the private hospital in the western suburbs of the city immediately. 

The court has directed the state government to bear the expenses of his treatment, and said that his family, including the petitioner in the case, his wife P Hemalatha, can meet him as per hospital protocol. The division bench of Justices S S Shinde and Madhav Jamdar also said Rao cannot be discharged from the hospital without informing the court, The Indian Express reported.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Hemalatha seeking that 80-year-old Rao be shifted to Nanavati Hospital. Chief public prosecutor Deepak Thakare submitted that his health was being monitored in the hospital ward of the jail. The court said Rao could be sent to Nanavati Hospital where he had undergone treatment in July after testing positive for Covid-19. Rao’s lawyer, senior advocate Indira Jaising, had told the court that Rao was suffering from dementia and a urinary tract infection and his condition was deteriorating without proper medical care at the hospital.

Rao was first transferred to JJ Hospital in May after he had fallen unconscious in jail. Jaising submitted to the court that he was discharged at that time “pre-maturely” as a bail application on medical grounds was pending before the special NIA court. The bail plea was subsequently rejected.

Jaising further submitted that even at the time of his discharge from Nanavati Hospital in July, the family members or the court was not informed about it and the discharge report from that time detailing his medical condition was also not made available. She submitted to the court that Rao is bedridden and the jail hospital is not equipped to conduct tests to monitor his health.

The HC had last week directed a medical examination of Rao. Jaising submitted that he was not examined by a neurologist or a urologist and was instead checked on a 15-minute teleconsultation from jail.

Jaising also submitted that since he had recovered from Covid-19 and given his age and other comorbidities, he requires monitoring which cannot happen at the prison. The court accepting the contention asked for Rao to be shifted to Nanavati Hospital.

On October 29, the Supreme Court asked the HC to decide the plea in an expedited manner.

The case will now be heard on December 3.

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