Swati Deshpande | TNN | Jul 23, 2020, 06:07 IST

Poet-activist Varavara RaoMUMBAI: Opposing his plea for interim bail, National Investigation Agency (NIA) has said Telugu poet-activist P V Varavara Rao, undergoing treatment for Covid-19 at Nanavati Hospital, is trying to take undue benefit “under the garb” of the pandemic and his old age. The agency opposed relief to Rao on merits of the case too, saying “adequate evidence has been placed on record to prove the complicity… of Rao”.
The NIA affidavit was filed on July 16—the day he tested positive for Covid-19. Additional solicitor general Anil Singh appearing for NIA confirmed the affidavit was filed before he tested positive for Covid-19.

The NIA affidavit has an identical statement used to oppose a similar plea by his co-accused Sudha Bharadwaj, vicepresident, Indian Association of People’s Lawyers.

Both NIA affidavits said, “It is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief, which is not available otherwise on merits of the case.’’ Both Rao and Bharadwaj are charged with working for banned outfit CPI (Maoist) and for terror-related offences under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The Bombay high court will hear both their pleas on Thursday. UAPA has a stringent section governing bail in the offence.

Rao and Bharadwaj were arrested on August 28, 2018, in connection with the case registered by Pune police after the Elgar Parishad.

The NIA’s detailed reply citing merits of the case said Rao cannot be granted bail as he is charged for serious offences under UAPA. It further said a high-powered committee merely permits an accused facing such stringent charges to apply for an interim bail, but the courts have to decide on the facts and circumstance of each case.
It said, “Evidence on record clearly established that Rao, Rona Wilson and other accused, including absconding accused… hatched a conspiracy and procured arms and ammunition to carry out unlawful activities as per objectives of CPI (Maoist), a banned organization.”

NIA said Rao was in contact with a leader of a Maoist organization in Nepal who was assisting in purchase of arms. It said the probe revealed, “Rao, Surendra Gadling and other accused persons had provided information regarding movement of security forces to underground members of CPI (Maoist)… and abetted underground members in attack on security forces that resulted in loss of lives”