Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Jesuit Priest and Adivasi rights activist, who has been accused in the Bhima Koregaon case, is to remain in Taloja jail till June 7, until the next hearing. In the meantime, the Bombay High Court Bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and Surendra Tavade has directed the jail authorities to follow the recommendations and treatment advised by the team of super speciality doctors of JJ Hospital and to ensure that he is provided with facilities set out in the report of the committee, the legal team told Sabangindia.
In the previous hearing on May 19, the Bombay High Court had ordered Taloja Central jail to set up a video call with him on May 21, and had directed the Dean of JJ Hospital to constitute a committee of doctors including a neuro-physician, ENT, orthopaedic physician, general physician and other doctors to submit a report on Father Stan’s health.
The hearing on Friday went on for close to two hours. Integral to the hearing was the direct video conferencing between the High Court judges and the 84-year-old priest, Father Stan Swamy. On being asked about his health today, Father Swamy told the court that there is a slow regression of his bodily functions and that he finds it more difficult to undertake day to day activities. He also told the Bench that over the past 8 months in Taloja jail, his health has deteriorated, and that he cannot walk or eat by himself and he needs constant assistance.
The court noted Father Stan’s submission and asked him if he would prefer being shifted to JJ Hospital instead of the prison hospital. But the priest refused to shift to JJ Hospital and said, “I have been there twice. I am not for being hospitalised in JJ Hospital. I would rather die here very shortly if things go on as it is.” At this stage, senior counsel for the priest, Mihir Desai intervened and stated that other hospitals, like Holy Family hospital could be made available for his treatment. Desai also requested the Bench if he could directly speak to Fr Swamy which the court accepted. At this stage, the undertrial priest was asked whether he would like to be shifted to any other hospital like Holy Family for general treatment owing to his old age. But the priest refused hospitalisation. He said he would either want to go to Ranchi or stay in jail.
Then, on the request of Senior Counsel Desai, who sought some time to speak to Father Stan and gain further details on his health, the court posted the matter for June 7.
As Father Stan has been booked under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, getting bail becomes a tedious process within the criminal justice system. It is noteworthy to look at the trajectory of the ailing Dr. Varavara Rao’s case, that forced him to remain in jail and then at Nanavati Hospital for almost four months before he secured bail on February 22, 2021.
Counsel Desai, speaking to Sabrangindia said, “The entire process of getting first interim bail on medical grounds, treatment (through hospitalisation) depends on medical records, their scrutiny, arguments around the same etc.” Only then is the interim bail or bail finally granted in cases such as these.
During the early stages of his bail hearing, while already at Nanavati, Dr. Rao had argued through his lawyer, to be released on interim bail but the State continued to suggest his treatment at JJ Hospital. Eventually, he did get interim bail for six months in February after the court ruled that his continued incarceration amid old age, sickness, infirmity and multiple health ailments, would be violative of Article 21.
The order may be read here:
Bombay HC sets up video call with Father Stan Swamy on May 21
Bombay HC order on medical bail for Varavara Rao sets an imp precedent
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Father Stan Swamy finally gets first Covid shot, health continues to deteriorate in jail