Bhima Koregaon case: court rejects bail pleas of Varavara Rao, Shoma Sen

Poet-activist Varavara Rao arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case. File photo.

Poet-activist Varavara Rao arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case. File photo.   | Photo Credit: Sudhakara Jain

A sessions court in Mumbai on late Friday evening rejected the interim medical bail pleas filed for the second time in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic by 81-year-old poet Varavara Rao and 61-year-old Prof. Shoma Sen — both having comorbidities.

Earlier in the day, special judge D.E. Kothalikar had reserved the order in both the applications after hearing arguments from both sides. Reasons for rejecting the bail pleas are not known and a detailed order is expected in due course of time.

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Special public prosecutor Prakash Shetty, who represents the National Investigation Agency (NIA), opposing the bail applications, told The Hindu, "The order is not known but the grounds for rejection are [that] they do not have any medical ailment or disease that requires hospitalisation or any sort of special treatment. Also, as per the high powered committee constituted to release prisoners because of COVID-19, those charged with Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) will not be granted bail. And those who are charged with UAPA, age is not a factor for consideration."

Mr. Rao is lodged at Taloja Central jail, where as of June 13, two inmates had been tested positive. Ms. Sen is lodged at Byculla jail where one inmate has tested positive. They moved the second plea after the first one was rejected on March 31 after the lockdown. The two senior social activists had applied for bail on the grounds of bad health and age, which makes them vulnerable to contracting the infection.

Ms. Sen’s application claimed that she suffered from multiple ailments, including osteoarthritis, glaucoma and high blood pressure. Mr. Rao has pre-existing health issues like piles, prostate enlargement, coronary artery disease, oedema, hypertension, acidity, sinus, and migraine. He was also admitted to J.J. Hospital on May 27 after he complained of giddiness and fainted.

The same judge had also rejected the interim medical bail plea filed by advocate and trade unionist Sudha Bharadwaj on May 29 this year.

The two are among the 11 persons booked by the Pune Police, before the NIA took over the investigation recently. The accused have been booked for allegedly delivering inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which triggered violence at the Bhima-Koregaon war memorial the next day.

On June 19, fourteen members of Parliament wrote a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray requesting urgent attention towards Mr. Rao's health.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 8:43:03 PM |

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