The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed Nanavati Hospital in the metropolis to submit a report in court on the health condition of jailed poet-activist Varavara Rao.
A bench led by Justice RD Dhanuka also directed the hospital authorities to submit details of the "nature of medical treatment" being provided to Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case, who tested positive for coronavirus on July 16 and is admitted in Nanavati Hospital.
The court directed the hospital authorities to submit the report on Rao's health and treatment within three days from the time the hospital receives communication on the court's order.
The court said once it went through the hospital's report, it will then decide on the plea filed by Rao's family seeking a copy of such report. The court will also hear arguments on Rao's bail plea after the hospital submits its report.
The directions came after the National Investigation Agency (NIA), the prosecution in the Elgar Parishad case, and the Maharashtra government submitted they had no objection to Rao's family being permitted to meet him, or to his family being informed of his health condition, subject to hospital protocols.
Earlier this month, a benched led by Justice SS Shinde had directed the NIA and the state to clarify if Rao's family could be permitted to see him from a distance, or through video-conferencing.
This was after Rao's counsels Sudeep Pasbola and R Satyanarayan had told HC that Rao was "almost on his death bed" and that if the 81-year-old poet was to die, he be permitted to die in the presence of his family.
On Tuesday, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh,on behalf of the NIA, said, "We have no objection if his family wants to meet him, when or at what time they want to meet him, or if they want to know his health status. It is for the state government now to assist them (Rao's family) in the same."
Advocate Pasbola told HC that Rao's family, for weeks now, had been running between hospital and jail authorities for a word on his health but everyone was refusing to share any information.
The state's counsel, Deepak Thakare, told court the hospital and jail authorities might have been hesitant in sharing information on Rao owing to "constraints imposed byICMR guidelines" on making public any information related to COVID-19 patients.
The court, however, asked if there existed any dispute on Rao having tested positive for coronavirus. When all parties said there was no dispute, it asked, "Then what is the problem in sharing information about his condition and treatment?"
Thakare then said the state had "no objection" toRao's family seeing him through video-conferencing or in any manner that the hospital permitted families of COVID-19 patients to meet them. HC is likely to hear the matter further on August 7.