Maharashtra govt says Varavara Rao ‘fully conscious’, HC seeks reports

The Bombay high court on Tuesday directed Maharashtra government to furnish details of the medical examination of poet P Varavara Rao, arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

The directions were issued after senior counsel Indira Jaising informed the court that the reports provided to the family of the 81-year-old on Tuesday afternoon did not have details of the tests conducted and lacked his neurology and urology reports.

In its report submitted on Tuesday, the Maharashtra government said that Rao is “fully conscious and oriented”.

Jaising said that the one-page report provided by the government through WhatsApp had no information regarding dementia and the urinary tract infection which Rao is suffering from.

Calling it “an eyewash”, Jaising submitted that the state government was resorting to delaying tactics. Rao is in a critical condition, she said, adding that he should be shifted to the hospital.

Rao is currently lodged as an under-trial in the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai.

Jaising told the division bench of justices SS Shinde and Madhav Jamdar that the government had failed to comply with court orders directing Nanavati Hospital, where Rao was treated in July, to conduct a check-up of Rao and submit a report to the court, along with his wife and the NIA.

Jaising told the bench that doctors at Nanavati Hospital who had examined Rao on November 12 via a video link, had also suggested that further tests, including a complete blood count and sonography of the abdomen, be done on him.

“The state has yet to get the tests done. Besides, the doctors examined Rao through the video link only for 15 minutes. He needs to be examined by specialists. A neurologist needs to examine him physically and these tests can’t be done at the Taloja prison hospital,” Jaising said.

“…Rao was not examined by a specialist so how can the video examination tell this court whether he needs to be shifted out of the prison to the hospital?” she said.

Since his arrest in June 2018, Rao has been in and out of the government-run JJ hospital in the city. On July 16, he tested positive for coronavirus, after which he was shifted to the Nanavati hospital. He was discharged on July 30 and sent back to the Taloja prison, Jaising said.

Rao’s wife has sought that the poet be shifted to Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai, owing to his “diminishing neurological and physical health condition”.

The court has directed the state government to provide a detailed report and has posted the hearing for Wednesday.

(With agency inputs)

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