The Supreme Court has granted regular bail on medical grounds to Telugu poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case. A bench led by Justice U.U. Lalit said the court considered Rao’s advanced age and serious health condition and therefore deleted the conditions limiting the relief in terms of time when Rao was granted interim bail in 2021.
The order said Rao should not leave the area of Greater Mumbai without the permission of the court or misuse the liberty granted to him to get in touch with witnesses or try to influence the course of the investigation. It also clarified that relief of bail was granted only on medical grounds and after weighing the facts regarding Rao’s condition. It should not be taken as a reflection on the merits of the case.
Rao was arrested in August 2018. The court noted that he was in custody for two and a half years, aside from the time he had been granted interim bail. The judges said that while charge sheets had been filed, the case had not seen the process of framing of charges. Furthermore, the other accused in the Bhima Koregaon case who are in jail have sought discharge. As these applications will delay the trial, it will seem prudent to let the ailing Rao out on bail. Rao’s lawyer, Anand Grover, submitted to the court that his client’s health even after being out on interim bail had deteriorated. Grover said Rao’s medical reports showed that his client had early onset of Parkinson’s disease.
Arguments by the National Investigation Agency, the prosecuting agency, said Rao was part of a deep conspiracy and should not be given bail as he was charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.