The Delhi High Court on Monday directed the shifting of jailed separatist leader Altaf Ahmad Shah from Ram Manohar Lohia (RML) Hospital to AIIMS, after the court was informed that he was diagnosed with renal cancer.
A single-judge bench of Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain observed that the medical records of the petitioner, Shah, reflected that he had been suffering from various ailments and was being treated at RML Hospital for the same. The court also observed that Shah had not submitted any document to show that he was suffering from renal cancer. The high court, without going into the merits of the case, held that the right to have adequate and suitable treatment is enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution.
“…after considering the totality of the circumstances and in the interest of justice, it is ordered that the petitioner be shifted to AIIMS, Delhi for appropriate treatment under the judicial custody and direct supervision of the concerned jail superintendent and after following all necessary security measures. It is also permitted that either son or daughter of the petitioner may meet the petitioner once in a day, for one hour in the hospital subject to proper verification and strictly as per the rules and regulations of the concerned hospital,” the court directed.
Shah, the son-in-law of the late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, has been in Tihar jail since 2018 in an alleged terror funding case filed against him and several other separatist leaders by the National Investigation Agency (NIA).
The senior counsel appearing for Shah on Monday had argued that the investigation has been completed in the case and a chargesheet has been filed. The case is pending trial before the Special Judge-NIA, Patiala House Courts. He also referred to a sworn affidavit by Shah’s daughter which stated that she was informed by the doctors on duty at RML Hospital that her father was suffering from renal cancer.
He further stated that the cancer had already spread to different parts of Shah’s body and he is suffering from multiple organ failure and requires urgent treatment at a hospital other than RML as it does not have adequate treatment facilities. He also sought that Shah be transferred to either AIIMS or Apollo Hospital for treatment, allowing either his son or daughter to meet him and look after him.
The special public prosecutor for NIA submitted that there is “no medical record at present” to indicate that Shah is suffering from renal cancer and the “concerned doctors at RML Hospital have not recommended the transfer of the petitioner to any other hospital”.
Disposing of the matter, the court directed that a copy of the order should be emailed to Shah’s counsel as well as the special public prosecutor for NIA, along with copies to the medical superintendent/chief medical officer of RML Hospital and the director of AIIMS Delhi. The court allowed Shah to inform the medical superintendent of RML Hospital for “..necessary compliance”.
The court, however, made clear that the expenses incurred in the course of transportation from RML Hospital to AIIMS shall be borne by Shah.
On Tuesday, Shah’s daughter Ruwa Shah had tweeted that her “ailing father who’s on ventilator” had not been shifted from RML to AIIMS despite the high court order on Monday. Previously on September 30, Ruwa had tagged the Prime Minister’s Office and the home ministry and tweeted, “My incarcerated father has been diagnosed of acute renal cancer which has metastasis and has spread to his other body parts, including his bones. It is my whole family’s request to please allow us to see him and consider his bail application on health grounds which was earlier today adjourned till 10 Sept in the NIA court as his condition is very critical and deteriorating, as I write. He is presently on oxygen support in the ICU of RML hospital – where there is no oncology department.”