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Supreme Court grants bail to activist and poet Varavara Rao in 2018 Bhima Koregaon case

The apex court gave Rao bail on medical grounds; he had been in custody for two and a half years.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted regular bail to activist and poet Dr P Varavara Rao, an accused in the 2018 Bhima Koregaon violence in Maharashtra.

Rao was given bail on medical grounds.

The apex court said: “He is 82 years old. He has been in custody for two and a half years. Though chargesheet (has been) filed, some of the accused (are) still not apprehended and matter has not been taken up for framing of charges against accused before court.

The bench continued: “This bail is purely on medical grounds. The order shall not be a precedent for the cases of other accused or the appellant itself on merits.”

The top court ordered Rao not to leave the jurisdiction of Mumbai “without express permission of the trial court”. “He should not misuse his liberty or get in touch with witnesses. He is entitled to medical treatment of his choice. But he has to keep the NIA (National Investigation Agency) informed about the same,” the court said.

The Telugu poet was arrested on 28 August, 2018, from his home in Hyderabad and was an under-trial in the Bhima Koregaon case – in which an FIR was lodged by the Pune Police at Vishrambagh Police Station on 8 January, 2018, under various sections of IPC and several provisions of the UAPA.

Initially, Rao was put under house arrest and on 17 November, 2018, was taken into police custody. He was later shifted to Taloja Jail in Maharashtra.

On 22 February, 2021, the Bombay High Court granted him bail on medical grounds and he was released on 6 March.

On 13 April, 2022, however, the court dismissed the activist’s plea for permanent bail but extended his temporary medical bail by three months.

The court also dismissed Rao’s plea seeking a transfer back to Telangana. Rao, who has been out on medical bail, stays with his wife in Mumbai.

The case pertains to alleged inflammatory speeches made at the Elgar Parishad conclave held in Pune on 31 December, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.

The Pune police said the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.

Later, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) took over the probe in the case.

Also read: 2 years, 3 charge sheets & 16 arrests — Why Bhima Koregaon accused are still in jail


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