Elgaar Parishad Case: Supreme Court Grants Bail To Varavara Rao Accused in Bhima Koregaon Violence

The Bhim Koregaon issue saw numerous journalists and activists arrested. The main charge was sedition, specifically the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). One of the accused was Varavara Rao, a poet for incitement of violence.

Facts

The accused in the Bhim Koregaon case, Varavara Rao, accused of being a member of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). He and other 15 other academics and civil rights activists are the accused in the Bhima Koregaon – Elgaar Parishad Case. He is 81 years old and suffers from diseases like prostate enlargement, oedema, hypertension, sinusitis, coronary artery disease among others. He also has cerebral atrophy and has bouts of delirium. This can be seen as a precursor to dementia according to reports that his lawyers, Indira Jaising and Anand Grover produced.

Varavara-Rao
Varavara Rao being escorted by Police Officers [Source: ThePrint]

Supreme Court Order

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The Court dictated that it cannot be a ‘mute spectator’ in the instance of a person’s deteriorating health. The Division Bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale stated that

“Thus, it becomes clear that the writ jurisdiction of this court under Article 226 of the Constitution cannot be said to have been ousted merely because the application for grant of bail has been rejected under Section 43D (5) of the UAPA, on a finding that the accusations against the undertrial are found to be prima facie true.”

The Court while highlighting the importance of right to life as guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution stated that

“The condition of old age, sickness, infirmity and multiple health ailments suffered by the undertrial indicate that his continued custody would be incompatible with his health conditions and that sending him back to Taloja Central Prison would amount to endangering his life, thereby violating his fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

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The Court held that bail could not be given to him under the offences he was charged with, but considering his health and his age, it would be violative of his fundamental rights to deny him bail. Observing all this the Court granted him bail for a period of 6 months.

Bail Conditions

The Court observed since the offences charged under UAPA and IPC are serious, he cannot be given unconditional bail. Observing that The Court then laid down certain bail conditions. They are as follows:

  1. The contact details of family and relatives residing with him should be provided.
  2. He should attend court whenever summoned. Provision for filing for exemption was also given.
  3. He should attend the police station through WhatsApp call fortnightly
  4. No public statements should be made.
  5. He should not associate himself with the co-accused.

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