The Supreme Court on Wednesday granted bail to activist P Varavara Rao in the Bhima Koregaon case on medical grounds and considering his age of over 82 years. The apex court, in its order today, allowed Rao to remain out of jail and made permanent the six-month bail granted to him by the Bombay High Court in February last year. Rao was arrested in February 2018.
Passing the order, the Supreme Court said that Rao’s bail will be subject to the condition that he will not leave Mumbai where the case against him is pending in trial court. He has also been restrained from getting in touch with witnesses or trying to influence the investigation of the case.
“The Petitioner is currently 82 years old initially taken into custody on 20.08.2018 and was kept under house arrest. Since 2018, police had opportunity of custodial interrogation. We are not strictly concerned with that facet of the matter. Instant case is on grant of bail on medical conditions,” the order said.
Challenging Rao’s bail plea in the Supreme Court, the National Investigation Agency (NIA) alleged that he “is engaged in continuous unlawful activities against the Government of India” and should thus not be granted bail on the basis of his old age.
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Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, appearing for the NIA, said that Rao was a member of the banned organisation, CPI Maoist, and has been engaged in nefarious activities. “Thus he was denied permanent bail. The nature of activities by the person is dangerous and harmful for the nation. He is a very shrewd person,” Bar and Bench quoted ASG Raju as saying during the hearing.
The NIA also referred to a document of the banned organisation CPI(Maoist), found during the probe which was named ‘strategy and tactics of Indian revolution’.
“The central task of CPI (Maoist) was not to wage a conventional war but people’s war by mobilizing people on a massive scale both militarily and politically. Document refers to subverting democratic institutions to further their ulterior motive,” the NIA’s counter affidavit filed in top court said.
On December 1, 2021, the Bombay High Court had denied bail to eight accused in the case. Another co-accused, Sudha Bharadwaj, has already been granted bail.