Admit Varavara Rao to private hospital, NHRC orders to Maharashtra govt

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has ordered jailed 80-year-old poet Varavara Rao who contracted Covid-19 in prison be moved to a private facility for treatment after his family said he was being neglected.

NHRC order, which came after outrage by famiy and rights activists for Rao’s release, also said expenses relating to Rao’s treatment would be borne by the state as he was an under trial prisoner and therefore its responsibility.

Revolutionary poet Rao has been in jail for over 22 months in the Bhima Koregaon case. His bail pleas, including those filed for relief on the ground of his age, ill-health, and risk of Covid-19, have been rejected on multiple occasions.

Taking cognizance of the matter, the Commission vide its proceedings dated 13.07.2020 observed that the right to life and medical care is one of the basic human rights and the State is duty bound to provide a prisoner who is in its custody, appropriate medical care so that there should be no danger to his life. T

The Commission directed to issue notices to the Chief Secretary and the Director General (Prisons), Maharashtra calling for a report in the matter, within two weeks and also directed to constitute a Medical Board to examine the health condition of Rao and to see whether the treatment being provided to him is appropriate.

The Commission had also mentioned that the Board is expected to decide as to in which hospital whether government of private, Rao will get the best medical treatment. The report is yet to be received.

“It is also mentioned in one of the communications received by the Commission that when the family members of Shri Rao visited him in JJ Hospital they were shocked to see that he was lying in the transit ward in a pool of urine on the bed and was still incoherent. He could not recognize his wife and daughters immediately and the nurses in the hospital told the family members that there were no equipments or treatment available to be given to the patient in the transit ward,” NHRC order reads.