The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought National Investigation Agency’s response on former chairman of proscribed outfit Popular Front of India (PFI) E Abubacker seeking interim bail on medical grounds.
A division bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh issued notice to the NIA, which was accepted by special public prosecutor Akshai Malik, and ordered, “Let the status report be filed on or before the next date of hearing. The status report shall incorporate the medical opinion of a specialist authored by AIIMS hospital qua the ailment and treatment advised therefore…in terms of the directions issued by a special judge of NIA”.
The HC further directed that a copy of the order be sent to the director of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). The matter is next listed on December 14.
The court was hearing the PFI leader’s plea who submitted that the bail was rejected by the special judge with the finding that he may be treated at AIIMS as per request.
Appearing for Abubacker, Adit Pujari submitted that, “He (Abubacker) had surgery in 2019 for adenocarcinoma, along with several cycles of chemotherapy”, and that he also suffers from Parkinson’s disease.
“A test which was due in October, the Ld Judge says that the fact that test is now scheduled in January 2023 shows that everything is taking place as per time…it is not like this gentleman has been arrested at a spot while planning to execute some terrorist activity. It wasn’t like he was planting a bomb. He is a 70-year-old man who can’t remember anything. There is no reason justifying why in April FIR, en masse arrest takes place. It is not like some imminent conspiracy was in place to do something. He was arrested on what the NIA would term as a conspiracy that they have been investigating for a long time,” Pujari submitted.
It was also submitted that a couple of tests are scheduled for Abubacker which he could get done tomorrow or the day after at his own expense if he was out. The court was further informed that a medical examination is scheduled for January 2023 as well.
The High Court, while seeking Abubacker’s medical report, said. “The point is he is seriously unwell. Eventually, we will have to consider whether AIIMS should be directed to constitute a medical board and let the court know what is the best way to treat him. If he requires hospitalisation at the AIIMS, we will direct it”.
The bench further remarked that they were concerned about Abubacker’s treatment. When informed about Abubacker’s brain MRI examination the High Court asked about the diagnosis and what treatment was recommended for him. “Surely he can’t wait for a scan till 2024. It is completely unacceptable. He is incarcerated for an offence that is a different matter. But it doesn’t mean we will wait till 2024, that too for an examination”.
The HC told the special public prosecutor to file a status report on the issue. Malik submitted that Abubacker was a member of the PFI which is a banned organisation. The HC said that it wasn’t as if the NIA’s case is that he is not entitled to treatment to which Malik submitted that the hospitalisation or treatment be carried out while he is in custody. On the court’s inquiry, Malik said that as of now charge-sheet has not been filed.
Pujari argued that Abubacker be sent to “house arrest” referring to the Supreme Court case of activist Gautam Navlakha, who was recently released from jail and sent to house arrest in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case. Rejecting this submission, the court said, “If you are seeking expeditious examination/treatment then that is a different matter. If you want regular bail we are not inclined to give it. We won’t do it in this case. What he needs is constant attention from a doctor. The argument on house arrest is completely contradictory to whatever you have said before. AIIMS is, after all, a premier hospital in the country”.
At this point, Pujari prayed that a western toilet and an attendant be assigned to Abubacker considering his condition. Malik submitted that he does not represent the Delhi Government. The High Court said that ideally the Delhi government should have been made a party. To this, Pujari said that though Abubacker was entitled to apply under the jail manual he was not able to apply. The court asked Pujari to apply for the aforementioned requests.
Abubacker was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on September 22 during the nationwide crackdown on the now-banned organisation. The agency had booked Abubacker under Sections 120B, 153A of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.