Updated: May 29, 2021 3:48:57 am
The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the state prison authorities to shift Jesuit priest and activist Father Stan Swamy – currently lodged at Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai for his alleged involvement in the Elgaar Parishad case – to private-run Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai “preferably” on Friday, for 15 days.
A vacation bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice N R Borkar conducted an urgent hearing on Swamy’s plea seeking interim bail after the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court had rejected his petition on grounds, including his health and the current Covid-19 situation.
Late on Friday, Swamy was to Holy Family Hospital in Bandra.
On May 19, the HC had directed the dean of state-run J J hospital to set up an expert committee to examine Swamy’s medical condition and submit a report by May 21.
On May 21, Swamy, who was produced before the court through a video conference from jail, had said that his condition has seen a steady regression since he was imprisoned last October. However, he had refused the court’s suggestion to be shifted to J J hospital, stating that he did not want to be admitted there and would “rather suffer” and “possibly die very shortly”.
Senior counsel Mihir Desai, representing Swamy, had then sought an adjournment to “speak and convince” Swamy to get treatment.
On Friday, Desai told HC that Swamy was ready to undergo treatment at Holy Family Hospital and will himself bear the cost.
“The health of the appellant is deteriorating and it is necessary to admit him so that he gets proper treatment,” he said. Desai added that he will need an attendant at the hospital at all times and that Father Frazer Mascerenhas, former principal of St Xavier’s College in Mumbai and currently a parish priest of St Peter’s Church in Bandra, who is Swamy’s friend, should be permitted to stay with him.
Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing NIA, argued that shifting Swamy to Holy Family Hospital may not be necessary as J J hospital has all facilities to treat him. He added that the order from the bench allowing admission to the private hospital may undermine the government hospital’s capabilities and set a wrong precedent.
Singh also opposed the presence of any private person in the hospital, in case HC allows the same, stating that the staff there is sufficient to treat and look after Swamy.
Additional Public Prosecutor J P Yagnik, appearing for the prison department, stated that Swamy was receiving proper care and medicines as recommended by the J J hospital committee.
In its order, the HC noted: “It is not in dispute that the appellant’s age is 84 years and according to findings recorded by a team of doctors from JJ hospital, he needs treatment. However, due to the present pandemic situation, and influx of patients, it may not be possible to give attention to the appellant in JJ hospital.”
“We are of the view that the appellant can be given a choice of Holy Family Hospital for his treatment for 15 days.
The appellant will bear the expenses. We request that the administration of the said hospital provide one attendant keeping in view the age of the appellant,” it added.
The court allowed Father Frazer Mascerenhas to visit Swamy at the hospital as per the facility’s protocols. It also directed the hospital to allow one police constable to be present in the hospital for Swamy’s protection. The court will hear the matter next on June 14.
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