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Elgar Parishad case: HC allows kin to meet Varavara Rao

The Bombay High Court on Tuesday permitted family members of poet Varavara Rao to meet him at Mumbai's Nanavati Hospital where the 81-year-old is undergoing treatment for COVID-19.

A bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht granted permission adding the meeting would be subject to hospital protocol on granting access to relatives of COVID-19 victims.

Rao, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Koregaon Bhima case, tested positive for coronavirus on July 16 and has been undergoing treatment at the Nanavati Hospital.

The HC granted permission after Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, counsel for National Investigation Agency (NIA) told court the agency had no objection to Rao's family being permitted to meet him, or to his family being informed of his health condition, subject to hospital protocols.

Rao filed a plea earlier this month through his lawyer Sudeep Pasbola seeking bail.

Advocate Pasbola also urged the court to let the poet meet his family saying the latter was "almost on his death bed".

On Tuesday, both the state government and the NIA told HC they had no objection to Rao's family seeing him, or to them receiving an update on his health condition.

The bench accepted their submission and said, "In view of the statement made by the learned Additional Solicitor General, family members of the petitioner are permitted to visit the petitioner who is admitted in Nanavati Super Specialty Hospital, however, subject to hospital protocol and in accordance with government norms in respect to COVID-19 patients."

Earlier during the day, the court directed Nanavati Hospital to submit a report in court on Rao's health condition and the nature of medical treatment being provided to him.

The court had said once it went through the hospital's report, it will decide on the plea filed by Rao's family seeking a copy of such report.

The court will also hear arguments on Rao's bail plea after the hospital submits its report.

It directed hospital authorities to submit the report on Rao's health and treatment within three days from the time that they receive communication on the court's order.

HC is likely to hear the matter further on August 7 this year.