Varavara Rao’s detention conditions are inhuman: Lawyer

Varavara Rao

Chennai: The conditions of poet Varavara Rao’s detention are ‘cruel, inhuman, and degrading’, senior lawyer Indira Jaising told the Bombay High Court, and urged it to exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to release him from prison.

Rao, an octogenarian poet-activist, is an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case and is lodged in Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai as an undertrial. However, he is currently admitted to the Nanavati Hospital in Mumbai.

Jaising is the counsel for Rao’s wife Hemlatha in a writ petition filed last year by the latter, alleging the breach of Rao’s fundamental right to life due to his continued incarceration without adequate medical facilities.

Jaising told a bench of Justices S S Shinde and Manish Pitale that Rao’s right to dignity and health were being breached due to his detention and that the court must exercise its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution to release him from prison.

“I am submitting that there is violation of right to life and dignity…The conditions of his (Rao’s) detention are cruel, inhuman and degrading,” Jaising said.

“The right to health and dignity is a faucet, a fundamental right under Article 226 of the Constitution of India,” she said.

“The right to life and dignity is fundamental right under Article 21,” Jaising added.

The court, however, said that such claims to fundamental rights were ‘general submissions’.

During the same hearing earlier, the bench also heard arguments by Rao’s counsel, senior advocate Anand Grover, on his bail plea on medical grounds.

Grover reiterated that the Taloja prison hospital was inept to provide requisite medical care to the ailing poet.

He suggested that Rao could be granted bail for a trial period of three months and in the meantime he could report to any authority as the court directed.

 

NT Bureau