Updated: July 5, 2021 7:52:52 am
Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case last year, has been put on ventilator after his health deteriorated further early Sunday, his lawyer said.
Swamy has been admitted to a private hospital since May 30 following the directions of the Bombay High Court. On Saturday, his lawyer, Mihir Desai, had informed the HC, which is hearing Swamy’s bail pleas, that the latter continues to be in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Post-midnight, Desai said Sunday, Swamy’s health condition deteriorated and he has been put on a ventilator. “His health has deteriorated and he has difficulty breathing as his oxygen levels have been fluctuating,” Desai said. This, he added, could be a result of long-term post-Covid complications.
A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar had Saturday posted to July 6 the hearing on Swamy’s appeals against a special court order rejecting his bail plea on medical grounds as well as merits due to the paucity of time. The HC directed that he remains admitted at Holy Family Hospital.
In the previous hearings, the court had noted that there were “serious medical issues” after perusing the hospital medical director’s reports on Swamy.
Dr Ian D’souza, the medical director of Holy Family Hospital, refused to comment on Swamy’s health. “We have to respect patient confidentiality. I cannot disclose anything about his treatment and health at this point,” he said. Cardiologist Dr J P Jadwani also refused to comment.
Melwyn Fernandes of Association of Concerned Catholics, meanwhile, said Swamy’s condition was serious until Sunday evening. “We are deeply pained to hear that Father Stan Swamy is suffering from poor health and is currently on a ventilator. He is wrongly accused because of his opposition to the government… We express deep anguish with his unjust detention,” he said.
Swamy was arrested on October 8 last year from Ranchi, where he was based, and brought to Mumbai by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) the next day. The NIA did not seek his custody, but filed a chargesheet against him and seven others on the same day.
Swamy had sought interim bail on grounds of the pandemic citing his various health issues, including Parkinson’s disease. He also filed for bail on merits before the special court stating that he was arrested for challenging the indiscriminate arrests of thousands of young Adivasis labelled as “Naxals” and claimed there was no proof of his involvement with the CPI (Maoists), a banned organisation, as alleged by the central agency. The special court had disallowed the pleas.
In May, before he was shifted to the private hospital, Swamy had appeared before the High Court through video-conference from Taloja jail. He then told the court that when he was brought to the jail, his core systems were still functional but there had been a steady regression and he was unable to perform daily chores, including eating and walking without assistance.
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