Updated: October 19, 2020 1:41:39 am
Stan Swamy, the 83-year old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist, arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) earlier this month in the Elgaar Parishad-Bhima Koregaon case, approached a special court last week seeking interim bail on medical grounds.
The plea referred to the guidelines by Maharashtra government’s high-powered committee — appointed on the directions of the Supreme Court — recommending decongestion of jails during the Covid-19 pandemic. It also stated his susceptibility to the virus given his age and other health conditions.
The NIA, however, opposed the plea on Saturday, stating that there is no merit in Swamy seeking relief as per the committee’s guidelines.
“Accused Stan Swamy, under the garb of the current situation on account of the global pandemic Covid-19, is trying to take an undue benefit of the situation… in seeking bail…,” it said in its reply to the bail plea.
It added that Swamy and 15 others booked in the case have been charged of serious offences, including the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, where the punishment can extend to life imprisonment. While claiming that there was adequate evidence to prove the case against him, the agency has also submitted that while the committee’s guidelines recommend considering the grant of interim bail to undertrials above 60 years of age, the same cannot be granted mechanically.
“It is clear that the pleading with regard to the medical condition of the petitioner is merely a ruse to obtain an order of interim relief, which is not available to the petitioner otherwise on the merits of the case,” the NIA reply said.
Swamy, who was arrested from Jharkhand on October 8 and produced before the special court in Mumbai the next day, was sent to jail without the NIA seeking his custody for further probe.
The agency has filed a supplementary chargesheet against Swamy and seven others on October 9. The chargesheet claimed that Swamy is a member of the banned organisation Communist Party of India (Maoist) and is actively involved in its activities.
Swamy, in a statement before his arrest, had said that he, along with others, including activists, lawyers, student leaders and poets, “who stand for the rights of adivasis, Dalits and the marginalised, and express their dissent to the ruling powers of the country, are being targeted”.
The court will hear Swamy’s bail application on Tuesday.
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