The National Human Rights Commission decided to get examined the medical report of Vara Vara Rao, sent by the Government of Maharashtra in response to its notices, by the medical expert on its panel. The report is to be given within 02 weeks for consideration of the Commission. Mr. Rao, a Telgu Poet and intellectual, is lodged in Taloja jail in Maharashtra for about 02 years.

The Commission found the submission as reasonable and plausible and accepted it considering the fact that COVID pandemic has affected the State of Maharashtra in large scale. It held the report as comprehensive which included the medical examination reports of Mr. Rao by the team of doctors and other medical reports.

Earlier, taking cognizance of the matter vide its proceedings dated 13.07.2020, the Commission opined that the deteriorating health condition of Mr. Rao is a serious issue of violation of human rights. The Commission directed to issue notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra calling for a detailed report in the matter. The Commission also directed to immediately constitute a Medical Board to analyze the health condition of Mr. Rao. The directions of the Commission were accordingly conveyed to the authorities concerned.

In the meantime, the Commission received several communications regarding his deteriorating health condition. It was communicated to the Commission that Mr. Rao had been tested positive for COVID-19 and that he had been transferred to St. George’s Hospital, which is a State Government-run COVID facility. Considering potential danger to his life, being a COVID positive with co-morbidities, the Commission directed the government of Maharashtra to provide him the best possible treatment at a private hospital without any further delay. The Commission on 17.07.2020 directed the State Government to shift him to the best possible COVID hospital, the same day.

In response to the directions given by the Commission, a report dated 22.07.2020 was received from the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra. The report confirmed that he was COVID positive with comorbidities. It is further mentioned in the report of the Chief Secretary, Govt. of Maharashtra that in view of the directions given by the Commission, Mr. Rao was shifted from St. George’s hospital to Nanawati Super Specialty Hospital, Mumbai on 19.07.2020.

The State Government contended that there was no intentional delay in shifting him to the super specialty hospital keeping in view the requirement of arrangements including security. The case being complex one, required proper coordination of multiple agencies, which includes, assessment of the prisoner’s health condition by a team of experts, required procedural compliance, availability of beds in the super-specialty hospital, which is treating COVID cases, proper coordination with the private authorities and adequate security measures for shifting the prisoner. It is also mentioned that constant vigil was kept on the prisoner’s health condition by the treating doctors.

National Human Rights Commission

Press Release dt. 21-08-2020

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