The NIA on Friday told the Bombay High Court that the health condition of poet Varavara Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case who is currently on an interim medical bail granted in February this year, was stable and hence must surrender before the prison authorities.
National Investigation Agency (NIA) counsel Sandesh Patil told a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and S V Kotwal that 83-year-old Rao had been medically examined earlier this month by a panel of doctors at the private Nanavati Hospital in the city and the doctors were of the opinion that Rao does not need continuous medical attention or hospitalisation at present.
Before being granted medical bail, Rao was lodged in Taloja prison of Navi Mumbai.
"His health condition is stable now and the time granted via medical bail to him by this court is already over. So he (Rao) should surrender now. All other issues (raised by Rao's lawyers) can be examined after that," Patil told the high court.
Rao was granted medical bail for six months in February this year by a bench led by Justice SS Shinde. He was due to surrender on September 5 this year, but the time of his surrender has been extended several times by the high court since then due to reasons such as need for further medical care, time sought by NIA to get him medically examined, etc.
Rao's counsel, senior advocate Anand Grover told the bench on Friday that although the NIA had submitted the Nanavati Hospital's opinion on Rao's medical condition, the same wasn't backed by any medical examination reports. He said that the high court bench must not accept such conclusion of the hospital authorities without insisting on the poet's original medical reports.
The report submitted by the NIA is signed by two doctors from the Nanavati Hospital. It says that Rao's health condition was "evaluated by multiple consultants" at the hospital on December 1 this year.
"Currently he has minor symptoms, such as lack of sleep and slight exhaustion. His vital parameters are in normal range. The remaining clinical examination reveals no significant abnormalities," the document submitted by the agency reads.
It further says that Rao's blood pressure was slightly high and hence, he was prescribed requisite medication.
"He is able to do all his activities of daily living," the document states, adding though that Rao experiences "some slowness in activities."
After going through the report, the bench led by Justice Jamdar asked Grover why the court must insist on verifying the claims made in the document when it clearly stated that Rao had been examined as per the high court's order passed on November 18, and that he was deemed to be medically stable by the hospital.
"The hospital of your choice saying that everything is normal now," the HC said.
Grover however, said that the high court must keep in mind orders of the Supreme Court that say that an appellate court has the mandate to check if the expert opinion is correct and is based on medical reports or facts.
"No expert opinion can be without reasons, this is now a settled law," Grover said.
The high court then directed that the Nanavati Hospital submit Rao's original medical reports by Monday, December 20.
"Ask the hospital to submit original medical reports on Monday. If we find there is something that needs to be addressed, we will hear the parties," the high court told the NIA.
It further said that Rao needn't surrender before the Taloja prison authorities till then.