In first of the “Lockdown on Civil Liberties” series, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has pointed towards how many of the convicted prisoners in Maharashtra whose parole is depended on the prison authorities managed to get paroled as some of the prison authorities were keen to remove congestion amidst Covid-19 onslaught. However, undertrials, many them human rights activists and scholars, charged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), failed to get bail even on pure humanitarian grounds. Read more
Report: Lockdown on Civil Liberties I – A PUCL (Maharashtra) series
By PUCL (Maharashtra)
The Lockdown on Civil Liberties Series The lockdown and attendant issues have led to major violations of civil liberties and human rights… In this context the PUCL Maharashtra has decided to bring out various segmantwise reports to record the impact. While some of the reports like the present one focuses on Maharashtra others deal with all India situation. Read full report
Govt Too Is Responsible for Rao’s Failing Health / Rao’s Treatment Raises Questions
Not Just NIA, Maharashtra Govt Too Is Responsible for Varavara Rao’s Failing Health
The Wire / by Sukanya Shantha
While the state government has spoken against the wrongful arrests of activists in the Elgar Parishad case, it did very little to provide timely medical care.
Telugu poet, writer and activist Varavara Rao was 78 years old when the Pune police arrested him in August 2018. At the time of his arrest, Rao was already suffering from several age-related health issues. His prolonged incarceration, coupled with the lack of medical care in prison and the sudden outbreak of COVID-19, has exacerbated his condition even further. Read more
Podcast: Why Varavara Rao’s Treatment Raises Questions on Civil Liberties
The Quint / by Mghna Prakash
At a time of a pandemic are states acting responsibly with prisoners?
The Bombay High Court finally allowed 80-year-old Varavara Rao to be shifted from Taloja Jail to Nanavati Hospital for 15 days for medical treatment on 18 November… But why did it take so much active intervention in order for Rao to be treated and transferred to Nanavati Hospital? At a time of a pandemic are states acting responsibly with prisoners? Listen to podcast
Arnab Goswami and Varavara Rao, Unequal Citizens Before the Law
The Wire / by N Venugopal Rao
While Goswami could move three levels of courts in quick succession within a week to secure his release, Rao has languished in jail in a fabricated case for two years, without trial and without bail.
Article 14 of the Indian constitution that “we, the people of India” conferred upon ourselves proclaims that “the state shall not deny to any person equality before the law or the equal protection of the laws within the territory of India.”
But it seems this proviso is only a lofty goal enshrined in the statute, to be adhered to selectively. Read more
Article 32: Rights for All or For a Favoured Few?
The Wire / by M Sridhar Acharyulu
Arnab Goswami’s case seems to have been an exceptional one where the SC felt it needed to intervene. It felt no such compunction in the case of Varavara Rao and countless others.
When the law becomes a weapon of oppression rather than an equalising force, democracy is in danger. Article 32 deals with the ‘Right to Constitutional Remedies’, and affirms the right of an individual to move the Supreme Court (SC) by appropriate proceedings for the enforcement of the rights conferred in Part III of the constitution. Read more
Maharashtra Human Rights Commission to hold hearing in Father Stan Swamy matter
The Additional Director General, Prisons (ADGP), Prisons in Pune has been summoned on 20 November by the State Human Rights Commission, Maharashtra for a hearing into the denial of rights and inhumane treatment being petted out of disabled tribal activist Father Stan Swamy. Read more
Video: Prof Jenny Rowena, wife of Hany Babu speaks to Dalit Camera
en | 7:30min | 2020
Jenny Rowena, Professor at Miranda House, Delhi University and wife of Hany Babu speaks to Dalit Camera with regards to his arrest related to Bhima Koregaon. She talks about the condition of Hany Babu inside jail, his treatment there and the atmosphere. Watch video
PUDR: Case a conspiracy to undermine Varavara Rao’s right to life / Access to Healthcare in Prison
Elgar Parishad case a conspiracy to undermine Varavara Rao’s right to life, says rights group
Scroll.in / by Scroll Staff
The Peoples Union of Democratic Rights (PUDR) pointed out that Rao has still not been granted bail, but was only allowed the right to proper medical care.
The Peoples Union of Democratic Rights on Thursday demanded the immediate release of Telugu poet and activist Varavara Rao, who was arrested two years ago in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. The group said the Centre’s ongoing inquiry into the Elgar Parishad conclave of 2017 was a conspiracy that has sought to undermine the 80-year-old’s right to life and was “taking away his human right to dignity”. Read more
Why did Varavara Rao Petition Courts for Access to Basic Healthcare in Prison?
The Leaflet / by Megha Katheria
While state apathy and inefficiency may cost Varavara Rao his life, his shifting to Nanavati Hospital does little to assure that no other prisoner will meet the same fate in the future.
THE Bombay High Court has ordered the Maharashtra Government to shift the 81-year-old poet and activist Varavara Rao to Nanavati Hospital for treatment. The state has also been warned against shifting him out of Nanavati without informing the court. This comes at the end of a long legal battle fought by P Hemalatha, Rao’s wife, spanning over three months only to secure basic treatment for him as he is seriously ailing. Read more
Why are inmates unable to access basic facilities in Indian prisons?
According to prison manuals, jail authorities are responsible for ensuring food, clothing and health facilities to inmates.
On November 6, activist Stan Swamy filed an application in a special court in Mumbai requesting access to use a straw and a sipper… When he was arrested in Ranchi, Jharkhand, he carried a small bag with himself that contained a few of his belongings as well as a straw and a sipper, said his lawyer Sharif Sheikh. However, after the arrest, the bag was left with the National Investigation Agency, which is probing the case. Read more
Father Stan Swamy has to go to court for a straw – NIA Asks 20 Days To Respond
The Telegraph / by Pheroze L. Vincent, Sanjay K. Jha
The court, whose permission is required for materials to be sent in from outside jail premises, set the next hearing for November 26.
When Father Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old tribal rights activist, was arrested in haste in Ranchi in the Bhima Koregaon case and taken to Mumbai last month, he had carried a bag with him.
In the bag was a sipper with a straw, which he needs to consume liquids. Father Stan suffers from several age-related ailments apart from Parkinson’s, which has left him unable to hold any open liquid container like a cup or a mug without spilling the contents. Read more
Arrested Activist, 83, Requests Straw Citing Parkinson’s. NIA Wants Time
NDTV / by Arvind Gunasekar
Father Stan Swamy, the 83-year-old tribal rights activist arrested last month over his alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon case, has moved the special court in Mumbai for permission to use a straw and sipper cup while drinking.
The NIA (National Investigation Agency), which arrested Mr Swamy – who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease – from his residence in Ranchi on October 8, has sought 20 days time to respond. Read more
Stan Swamy files plea to allow use of straw, sipper in Taloja jail
The Hindu / by Sonam Saigal
83-year-old accused in Bhima-Koregaon case, suffers from Parkinson’s.
Father Stan Swamy, 83, on Friday filed an application before the special court seeking that he be allowed the use of a straw and sipper in Taloja Central Jail where he has been lodged as he cannot hold a glass due to Parkinson’s disease.
The prosecution has sought time 20 days to file a reply to this application and the matter will be heard on November 26. Read more
Varavara Rao’s wife moves Supreme Court for his immediate release on medical grounds
The wife of 82-year-old activist and poet Dr Varavara Rao, P Hemlatha, moved a writ petition in the Supreme Court (SC) for Rao’s immediate release on medical grounds. The petition says his custody amounts to cruel and inhuman treatment, violating Article 21 of the Constitution of India and is violative of his dignity in custody. Read more
‘Dr. Varavara Rao’s Health Condition Feeble’: Wife Moves SC For His Release On Medical Grounds
Live Law / by Sanya Talwar
Dr. P. Varavara Rao’s wife, Pendaya Hemlatha, has moved the Supreme Court in a writ petition for the immediate release of her husband basis medical grounds…
Filed on behalf of Senior Advocate Sunil Fernandes, the writ petition preferred under Article 32 of the Constitution states that Rao’s immediate release is pertinent from Taloja Central Jail, Maharashtra as his health condition is very feeble and that he suffers from various co-morbodities and not every person with Covid19 has similar symptoms. Read more
Jailed activist and poet Varavara Rao is being looked after by co-prisoners Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira rather than competent medical authorities in Taloja Jail in Navi Mumbai, his family have said. Read more
Maharashtra: Families of Prison Inmates Worried / Lockdown for some, lockup for others
More humane provisions are needed for prisoners, including political prisoners and those charged under special laws.
It is obvious that the threat of the coronavirus, a communicable disease, is worst in places of high population density. The prison is one such place. About half a million persons are incarcerated in more than 1,300 jails scattered all over India. More than two thirds are undertrials… It is only high-profile cases like those of Binayak Sen, Varavara Rao and others incarcerated in the Bhima Koregaon case that attract national or even international attention. While this attention is justified, most people do not realise that thousands of powerless, impoverished people face similar or worse injustice. Read more
Maharashtra: Families of Prison Inmates with Co-morbidities and Age Issues Worried
News Click / by Varsha Torgalkar
Activists have been demanding the release of prisoners on health grounds. So far, six inmates have died of COVID-19 in prisons across state and 1,772 prisoners have tested positive out of total 11,267 tests conducted as per the Prison Department data.
Pune: On July 12, poet and activist Varavara Rao’s daughter addressed a press conference saying, “My father, Varavara Rao, an 81 years old poet, blabbered about his father’s funeral which was held 75 years ago. Whatever he talked was incoherent during the weekly call from prison to family. His co-prisoner, Vernon Gonsalves, told us that he is in no condition to walk and carry out his daily works,” The family had panicked after the call and held the press conference the next day. Read more
Byculla women’s prison – no bed or ceiling fan and a fear of covid-19 outbreak
The Byculla women’s prison complex has several high profile prisoners apart from the actor Rhea Chakraborty, including Shoma Sen, Sudha Bharadwaj and Indrani Mukherjea.
… Despite the opacity around India’s custody and incarceration system, reports over the years on the condition inside paint a poor picture of the prison. Read more