The health condition of poet Varavara Rao, accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case and on interim medical bail, is stable and he must surrender before the prison authorities, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) told the Bombay High Court today.
83-year-old Varavara Rao had been medically examined earlier this month by a panel of doctors at Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital who were of the opinion that Mr Rao does not need continuous medical attention or hospitalisation at present, the anti-terror probe agency's counsel Sandesh Patil told a bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and SV Kotwal.
Before being granted medical bail, Varavara Rao was lodged in Navi Mumbai's Taloja prison.
"His health condition is stable now and the time granted via medical bail to him by this court is already over. So he should surrender now. All other issues (raised by Varavara Rao's lawyers) can be examined after that," Mr Patil told the court.
Mr 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 over his need for further medical care, time sought by the NIA to get him medically examined, and other factors.
Mr Rao's counsel, senior advocate Anand Grover, told the bench today that although the NIA had submitted Nanavati Hospital's opinion on Mr Rao's medical condition, the same wasn't backed by any medical 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 was signed by two doctors of the Nanavati Hospital. It says that Mr 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 the normal range. The remaining clinical examination reveals no significant abnormalities," the document submitted by the agency reads.
It further says that Mr Rao's blood pressure was slightly high and he has been prescribed requisite medication.
"He is able to do all his activities of daily living," the document states, adding though that Mr Rao experiences "some slowness in activities".
After going through the report, the bench led by Justice Jamdar asked Anand Grover why the court must insist on verifying the claims made in the document when it clearly stated that Mr 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 is saying that everything is normal now," the court said.
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, Anand Grover said.
"No expert opinion can be without reasons, this is now a settled law," he said.
The High Court then directed that Nanavati Hospital submit Mr Rao's original medical reports by 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 Mr Rao needn't surrender till then.