The Bombay High Court on Thursday asked the National Investigation Agency to verify if Telangana has a provision to provide free eye treatment to poet-activist Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, as claimed by him in his plea seeking permission to go to Hyderabad for three months to undergo cataract surgery.

Rao was arrested in August 2018 for his alleged involvement in the case and is presently out on medical bail. Rao was initially granted temporary bail for a period of six months by the HC in March 2021.

The Supreme Court in August 2022 granted him medical bail. One of the conditions imposed on him was he would have to remain in Mumbai and would have to seek the court's permission if he wanted to travel outside the city. Rao had filed an application in HC seeking permission to travel to Hyderabad for three months to undergo cataract surgery.

A single bench of Justice Amit Borkar said the crux of Rao's plea was Telangana has a provision by which a pensioner of that state can avail free medical treatment of up to Rs two lakh. If this was factually incorrect then the complexion of the matter changes, Justice Borkar said.

Rao's Advocate R Satyanarayanan told the court the said provisions were annexed in the petition. The HC, however, insisted the National Investigation Agency (NIA) verify this fact and inform the court on June 5, when the plea would be heard again. Rao, in his application, claimed his vision was deteriorating and that surgery and post-op care in Mumbai were expensive, whereas it was free in Telangana for a pension holder.

The NIA's Advocate, Sandesh Patil, opposed the petition arguing the surgery was a minor procedure and that Rao was accused of serious offences.

"He is outside on bail. Cataract surgery requires an hour's time. He can get it done in Mumbai. We are saying he is a dangerous criminal, there are serious charges against him," Patil said.

According to the investigators, provocative speeches were allegedly made at the Elgar Parishad conclave on December 31, 2017, triggering violence at Koregaon-Bhima in Maharashtra's Pune district on January 1, 2018. The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists. The NIA later took over the probe into the case.

Cause Title- Dr P Varavara Rao v. National Investigation Agency And Anr

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With PTI Inputs