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Monday, September 20, 2021

Bombay HC to consider plea of Gadchiroli blast accused seeking shift to hospice care

The division bench of Justice S S Shinde and N J Jamadar heard a petition filed on behalf of Nirmala Uppuganti, who is suffering from breast cancer, seeking to be shifted to a hospice from Byculla women’s jail where she is lodged.

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: September 2, 2021 10:58:34 pm
Gadchiroli Naxal attack, Gadchiroli Naxal violence, Gadchiroli attack, Naxal attack Gadchiroli, India news, Indian ExpressAs many as 15 police personnel and the private vehicle's driver were killed when Naxals triggered an improvised explosive device (IED) blast. (Express Photo by Devanand Sakharkar)

The Bombay High Court on Thursday said that it would consider the plea of a terminally ill accused in the Gadchiroli IED blast case seeking palliative care at a hospice, noting that she “needed a person to attend to her”, but asked why an application for bail was not filed in her case.

The division bench of Justice S S Shinde and N J Jamadar heard a petition filed on behalf of Nirmala Uppuganti, who is suffering from breast cancer, seeking to be shifted to a hospice from Byculla women’s jail where she is lodged. Uppuganti’s lawyer, Payoshi Roy, told the court that while she had contemplated filing for bail, the 59-year-old does not have any family members outside the prison and hence it would be difficult for her to manage on her own even if granted bail. Uppuganti’s husband, also an accused in the case, is in judicial custody. Roy told the court that this was the reason that the petitioner sought being shifted to a hospice cancer care centre where “she can be attended to in her final days”.
Uppuganti, her husband Sathyanarayana Rani and others were arrested in 2019 for their alleged involvement in an IED blast in May 2019 in Gadchiroli, which left 15 security personnel and one civilian dead.

“It is not our contention that she is not being given treatment in jail. But she is kept in a single cell where she has no access to hot water, nutritional food or a chair, bed. She is in excruciating pain even while getting into the jeep to go for treatment at the Tata Memorial Hospital. The jail does not have the necessary infrastructure to provide her with a nurse for assistance. She has developed other illnesses including allergies due to pigeon droppings in her cell. This is no way for a patient to die, she has very little time left,” Roy told the court.

The court inquired about the hospice and when told that it was run by a private trust said that it would be difficult to direct the institution to admit a patient. Roy told the court that they had consulted the trust, which was ready to provide Uppuganti palliative care. The court said that an acknowledgment from the trust should be submitted before the court.

Public prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde told the court that a report from Tata Memorial Hospital showed that Uppuganti is required to be taken for radiation thrice a week and the jail authorities will ensure that she is taken for the same as and when required.

“Have you visited jail? Are you aware of its condition? The fact that she has been called for treatment thrice a week shows her medical state. She needs a person to attend to her,” the bench said. When Shinde said that Uppuganti and her husband were both accused in a bomb blast case, the court said that it was not going into the merits of the case.

The court allowed Roy to make amendments to the petition to mention why bail was not sought for Uppuganti, and directed the state government to submit a medical report after an examination on Friday.

Appeal cannot be a ground to defer the framing of charges: Trial court

Meanwhile, a trial court heard an appeal by the lawyer of Uppuganti and Rani seeking deferment of framing of charges against them, citing they intended to file an appeal against the court rejecting the latter’s discharge application last month. The court said that unless there is a stay, an appeal cannot be a ground to defer the framing of charges. Both Uppuganti and Rani were present in the court during the hearing. The court directed the prosecution to file draft charges during the next hearing on September 16.

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