Elgar Parishad case: Submit report on Varavara Rao’s health in 3 days, Bombay HC tells Nanavati Hospital
The Bombay high court (HC) on Tuesday directed Nanavati Super Speciality Hospital to submit within three days a report on the health of 81-year-old Telugu poet P Varavara Rao, accused in the Elgar Parishad case and who was recently admitted to the hospital for Covid-19 treatment. Rao was shifted from Taloja Jail to a hospital earlier this month owing to his deteriorating health and he has been undergoing treatment in Mumbai hospitals since July 16 after testing positive for coronavirus.
The court order was prompted after Rao’s family expressed concerns, as according to them, Rao was admitted to hospital in a critical condition and neither the jail nor hospital authorities were forthcoming on any information. The court has asked the hospital to submit the report in court itself and posted the matter for hearing on August 7. A division bench of justice R D Dhanuka and justice VG Bisht, while hearing the petition filed by Rao’s advocate, was informed by senior counsel Sudeep Pasbola that ever since Rao was shifted from Sir JJ Hospital to GT Hospital and finally to Nanavati Hospital at Vile Parle, the family was in the dark regarding his health condition. Rao had been shifted to Sir JJ Hospital from Taloja Jail after his health had deteriorated. After the Covid test on him at Sir JJ Hospital turned positive, he was shifted to GT Hospital, which is a Covid dedicated hospital.
Though Rao’s Covid report said that he was asymptomatic, but due to other comorbidities when he suffered a head injury after falling off the hospital cot, he was rushed to Nanavati Hospital. Pasbola informed the court that since then the family was in the dark on his condition and hence the court should direct jail authorities to allow his family to see him.
On behalf of the National Investigation Agency (NIA), additional solicitor general Anil Singh opposed the plea of Rao’s family, stating that as per ICMR guidelines, no one could go near a Covid patient, except the doctors and hospital staff treating him, hence the question of the family being able to meet Rao at Nanavati Hospital was not possible. Singh further submitted that as per the ICMR guidelines no information about the patient could be revealed to anyone till the patient fully recovered and hence the demand of the family to know the status could not be complied with.
The jail authorities and the state, through public prosecutor Deepak Thakare, concurred with Singh and said that even personnel from the jail were not allowed to see Rao. Thakare, however, submitted that authorities did not have any problem if the hospital was asked to submit a report on the health condition of Rao and the line of treatment adopted by them after Rao was admitted there. Thakare suggested that the hospital could submit the report to the court and the court could then disclose it to the family.
After hearing the submissions, the bench directed the hospital to submit a report on the two parameters within three days and said that after perusing the report, it would decide on whether the information could be shared with the family.