By: Express News Service | Mumbai | Published: June 26, 2020 9:42:59 pm
Varavara Rao was arrested in 2018 in the Elgar Parishad case (File/PTI)
A special court on Friday rejected the interim bail applications of 81-year old writer poet, Varavara Rao and 61-year old former professor Shoma Sen, who were arrested in 2018 in the Elgar Parishad case.
Both Rao and Sen had sought interim bail citing their ill-health and susceptibility to Covid-19. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) had opposed the pleas stating that since they have been charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, there is no provision to grant them temporary bail.
Rao had last month fallen unconscious in his cell in Taloja central jail and was rushed to state-run JJ Hospital. His lawyers had submitted before the court that his medical condition needs proper and immediate attention to prevent it from deteriorating further.
Fourteen Members of Parliament had last week written to the Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray to provide urgent medical attention to Rao stating that the health reports from JJ Hospital indicate an electrolyte disturbance which could prove detrimental as he is already a cardiac patient. The NIA had submitted that the jail authorities can be
directed to ensure proper medical attention whenever required and said steps were being taken for isolation and quarantine within the jail to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
So far, two inmates, who tested positive for Covid-19, have died at the Taloja central jail, and a 54-year old female inmate at Byculla women’s jail where Sen is lodged recovered.
Sen’s lawyer too had submitted that she is aged about 61 years and suffers from multiple ailments such as osteoarthritis, glaucoma and high blood pressure and is vulnerable to such disease as Coronavirus. They had also submitted that the high powered committee constituted on orders of the Supreme Court in March had directed decongesting jails.
The special court’s detailed order rejecting the applications is yet to be made available. The court had last month rejected the bail plea of activist-lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj. An appeal against the order is pending before the Bombay High Court.
Meanwhile, lawyer Arun Ferreira and activist Rona Wilson have sought release on temporary parole. In an application sent to the court through email, the two who are lodged in Taloja central jail have sought parole for 60 days citing the Covid-19 outbreak. The NIA has opposed the pleas.
Eleven accused have been booked for allegedly being a part of a criminal conspiracy to organise the Elgar Parishad event in Pune on December 29, 2017, linking it to the assault on Dalits in Bhima Koregaon village on January 1, 2018.
The Pune police from whom the NIA took over the case earlier this year claimed that the accused have links with the banned organisation, CPI (Maoists). The accused have argued that there is no evidence linking them to the case and that the state government arrested them to evade action against others including Hindutva leaders Milind Ekbote and Sambhaji Bhide, who were booked in connection with the violence in Bhima Koregaon.
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