THE Bombay High Court Friday ordered the Taloja Jail authorities to follow the recommendations made by JJ hospital about the treatment and the facilities to be provided to octogenarian Father Stan Swamy, an accused in the Bhima Koregaon case.
A vacation bench comprising Justices SJ Kathawalla and Surendra passed the order while hearing a bail application by Stan Swamy on medical grounds.
The high court on May 19 directed the health check-up of Stan Swamy by the JJ hospital.
Senior advocate Mihir Desai appeared for Father Swamy, while ASG Anil Singh and PP Jayesh Yagnik appeared for the NIA and state government respectively.
Desai had not been supplied with a copy of Father Swamy’s medical report prepared by the JJ hospital, so the Court read it out for his benefit. This report was submitted pursuant to the Court’s 19th May order wherein the Dean of JJ Hospital had been asked to constitute a committee to examine Father Swamy on 20th May 2021.
The report mentioned that the petitioner’s poor health largely had to do with age. The committee did not find any neurological defect or psychopathology. Some of the ailments mentioned in the report include the imbalance of limbs, lumbo sacral degeneration and some degree of hearing loss. It recommended urgent surgical assistance for the hearing loss and physical assistance owing to his general weakness.
Father Swamy was presented before the Court from Taloja Jail via video-conferencing.
He told the Court that while had been examined by doctors at JJ Hospital, he had not been given a chance to explain his complaints. He emphasised that he had experienced several deterioration of health over the last 8 months in jail, and was not able to perform daily activities such as walking, writing and bathing without assistance anymore. He mentioned that he had to be fed, and his appetite has greatly reduced. He stated that his hearing is greatly reduced, and he is not able to converse as normal anymore.
The Court enquired about the general treatment at Taloja Jail. In response, Father Swamy spoke about the dire condition in jail that prompted prisoners to help each other in the face of acute economic deprivation.
When the Court asked whether he would like to be admitted to JJ Hospital for the general treatment of his health, he replied in the negative. He is of the opinion that no hospital will be able to improve his condition, and he would rather suffer in jail than be admitted to another hospital.
The Court clarified that it was willing to issue orders to transfer him to JJ Hospital or any other hospital of his choice for the general treatment of his health, which was largely deteriorating due to his advanced age. He replied in the negative again, stating that the only relief he sought was interim bail. He wished to be sent home to Ranchi, where he could be with people close to him.
Desai, appearing for Father Swamy, informed the court that he did not wish to return to JJ Hospital because he had already been there and did not think that those facilities could help him.
Father Swamy proceeded to tell the Court that his co-accused were worried about his health, and he believed that his condition would gradually worsen if he was kept back at Taloja Jail or any other hospital.
When the Court pointed out that Father Swamy was himself refusing to go to any hospital, Desai clarified that he was hard of hearing, and had been referring to government hospitals, but the Court rejected this submission. It stated that the primary issue was that it was only Father Swamy’s general health that was of concern, not a specific medical condition.
Desai further submitted that the Taloja Jail Hospital lacks MBBS doctors, nurses and compounders, it simply has three ayurvedic doctors, who are not equipped to treat the petitioner adequately.
Father Swamy repeatedly mentioned that his only request from the Court was that he be granted interim bail, to which Desai responded by asking the Court to allow him to speak with the petitioner.
Father Swamy repeated the same request for interim bail to Sr. Adv. Desai, who informed him that it would be strongly advisable to agree to be transferred to Holy Family Hospital, so that his general health condition could be attended to. He informed Father Swamy that interim bail might not be possible at the time, and so he should agree to being treated at a hospital in the interim period.
Desai also submitted to the Court that being a priest, Father Swamy was likely to adopt an approach along the lines of “father forgive them for they know not what they are doing.” However, he prayed that the Court grant him the liberty to file an application to be shifted to a hospital for immediate treatment as soon as Father Swamy agreed to the same.
Also Read: Varavara Rao granted six-month bail on medical grounds; court would’ve abdicated its duty of protecting poet’s rights if bail not granted, says Bombay HC
The article was originally published in The Leaflet.