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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Elgaar Parishad case: HC extends Stan Swamy’s hospital stay till July 5, cites serious medical issues

Hospital report says health condition critical, further intensive care required

By: Express News Service | Mumbai |
Updated: June 17, 2021 8:48:43 pm
Swamy, who was arrested from Ranchi in October 2020, suffers from a range of medical issues, including low blood pressure, hearing loss and Parkinson’s disease. He tested positive for Covid-19 on May 30. (File Photo)

Taking note of “serious medical issues” in his hospital report, the Bombay High Court on Thursday extended the stay of Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Jesuit priest and activist arrested last year in the Elgaar Parishad case, in Bandra’s Holy Family Hospital for two weeks, till July 5.

Hearing appeals by Swamy against special court orders rejecting his bail plea, a division bench of Justice SS Shinde and Justice NJ Jamadar took note of the hospital report that said Swamy has been shifted to the ICU as his health condition was “critical” and required further “intensive care”.

While the court was inclined to extend the hospital stay for four weeks, the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which is probing the case, sought to peruse the medical report and respond to it in two weeks. The bench directed the registry to share the report with the agency and state prison authorities with the consent of the appellant’s counsel.

The HC posted further hearing on Swamy’s plea on July 3.

The High Court had, on May 28, directed state prison authorities to shift Swamy from Taloja Central Jail in Navi Mumbai to the private Holy Family Hospital for 15 days, asking Swamy to bear the cost of his treatment. Swamy was shifted to the hospital ICU the same night and put on oxygen support.

Swamy, who was arrested from Ranchi in October 2020, suffers from a range of medical issues, including low blood pressure, hearing loss and Parkinson’s disease. He tested positive for Covid-19 on May 30.

On June 10, the court extended Swamy’s stay at Bandra Hospital till July 18 after being informed of his Covid status.

On Thursday, senior counsel Mihir Desai, arguing for Swamy, urged the court that the 84-year-old be allowed to remain in the Bandra Hospital as he has been shifted to the ICU again, adding he has heart problems. The bench perused the report filed by the medical director of the hospital and noted “there were serious medical issues”.

After the bench inquired with advocate Sandesh Patil for NIA as to whether the hearing can be deferred by four weeks, Patil responded that the agency would first go through the hospital report and then respond in two weeks, which the court accepted.

Opposing Swamy’s bail plea, the NIA reiterated that the agency had sufficient evidence to prove that Swamy was involved in a “deep-rooted” conspiracy and was directly involved in the “Naxalite movement” through the banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist).

After hearing the submissions, the bench said, “It will suffice to record that the medical director has reported that the appellant continues to require intensive care. In view of the aforesaid report, we deem it appropriate to extend the permission for stay of the appellant in the Holy Family Hospital, Bandra on terms mentioned in the May 28 order till July 5.”

Posting further hearing on July 3, the bench granted two weeks’ time to Desai to file a rejoinder to the NIA’s affidavit in reply to Swamy’s pleas.

Swamy’s role in conspiracy against national interest cannot be overlooked: NIA

In its affidavit submitted before the HC, the NIA stated that after Stan Swamy’s name was found in the laptop of co-accused Rona Wilson, further investigation from NIA, which took over the case from Pune police in June, 2020, revealed that the priest was an active member of CPI (Maoist) and had received Rs 8 lakh from one of the members of the banned organisation for “conducting its activities”. The NIA claimed that Swamy is a convener of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), a frontal organisation of CPI (Maoist), and that “his role in the conspiracy against national interest cannot be overlooked.”

The affidavit further read, “Law shall take its own course, (but) offences committed by appellant do not overweigh his stature which is just eyewash. Under the pretense of his stature and of voicing for the tribal community, the accused is actually accomplishing the agenda of CPI (Maoist). The ghastly truth is that in the name of social cause, social activities etc, the appellant and co-accused are actually working to achieve the goal of CPI (Maoist).”

Posting further hearing on July 3, the bench granted two weeks’ time to Swamy’s lawyer to file a rejoinder to the NIA affidavit.

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