The Bombay High Court, which dismissed Elgar Parishad case accused Varavara Rao's plea for permanent medical bail on April 14, said the 83-year-old's clinical summary by the Nanavati Hospital showed he did not need continued medical care.

Since such a summary went against Rao's interest, it was only natural for him to "find ways and means to wriggle out of the medical report," and "dispute its findings," the Bench of Justice SB Shukre and Justice GA Sanap said.

It was not the Court's job to analyse the advice of medical experts, the High Court said while rejecting Rao's pleas for extension of medical bail, modification of bail conditions, and for permanent bail.

In making the above comments, the Bench was referring to contentions made in Rao's pleas, and to the arguments made in court by his counsel Anand Grover. Grover had argued the clinical summary dated December 15, 2021, was based on Rao's medical examination at the private Nanavati hospital in the city.

Grover had argued that while the summary said Rao was fit for discharge, it failed to provide reasons for such conclusion, and the report was also silent on Rao's previous clinical diagnosis of early Parkinson's disease that was made at another private hospital in the city.

The NIA represented by Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, however, had submitted that Rao was treated at a hospital of his choice and now that he was deemed fit for discharge by the doctors there, there was no question of extending his medical bail, or granting him permanent medical bail.

"He will be given medical help at the Taloja prison whenever required. There are several other senior citizen prison inmates who suffer from medical ailments but continue to remain in custody, " the ASG had argued.

The Court, which took note of the NIA's submission, said it could not ignore the fact that Rao was facing "serious charges" under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, including the charge of having conspired to overthrow the Union government.

"The allegations levelled against the accused about his involvement in commission of crime has remained unchanged. It is a matter of record that the clinical opinion is against the accused. It does not suit to the purpose of the accused. Therefore, it is but natural for the accused to find the ways and means to wriggle out of this report," Court said.

"The accused has, therefore, blamed the doctors and NIA Officials. In our view, this cannot be accepted," it said.

While holding that the Rao is not entitled to bail, the Court said, "Seriousness and severity of the crime would remain till such time the accused is pronounced not guilty of the crime alleged to have been committed by him. Role attributed to the accused is serious. He is one of the main conspirators. Therefore, in our opinion, on the medical ground the accused is not entitled to get bail".

The High Court, however, said that it had found substance in several claims made by Rao on lack of medical facilities and poor hygiene at the Taloja prison. The High Court directed the Inspector General of Prisons to submit a "candid" report by April 30 on the state of such facilities, and the appointment of doctors and medical staff in prisons across the state, and at "Taloja prison in particular".

The IG prisons must ensure, henceforth, there remain no grounds for inmates to raise grievances on inadequate health facilities in prisons across the state, Court said. "In our view, if corrective measures are adopted, then the grievance made by the accused in this case, as well as grievances in prisons all over Maharashtra could be taken care of," the High Court said.

"It is the duty of the Inspector General prisons to ensure compliance of prison Act and Rules. The IG will be held accountable for non-compliance and lapses in future," it said while directing the special NIA court to expedite the trial in the Elgar Parishad case, and to conduct the trial proceedings on a day-to-day basis.

Rao was granted temporary medical bail by Bombay High Court in February last year. On April 14 this year, High Court extended this bail by three months to allow Rao undergo a cataract surgery, and he will have to surrender to the Taloja jail authorities at the end of this period.

Click here to read/download Judgment

With PTI inputs