Father Stan Swamy: I’d rather suffer, possibly die if things go on as it is

NB: The cruelty of this regime is staggering in its implications. Not only does it seek to punish and intimidate its critics by manipulating the justice system for blatantly partisan ends; it also seeks to create and use an atmosphere of fear to intimidate the judiciary. How else may we understand the manner in which the mysterious deaths of Judge Loya and his friends was swept under the carpet by CJI Deepak Mishra? Do the judges really think that the continued incarceration of an 84 year-old Jesuit Father with Parkinson's disease and hearing difficulties  is essential to national security? 

Why has Fr Swamy's normal bail petition been kept pending for months? Is the NIA the personal vigilante force of the Home Minister? Do they want Fr Swamy and the other Bhima-Koregaon accused to perish in custody? Let every decent person in India and abroad think about the depths to which Indian justice has descended. What a disgrace, what a shame. DS

Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, on Friday submitted to the Bombay High Court that his condition has seen a steady regression since he was jailed in October last year. Swamy refused the court’s suggestion to be shifted to state-run JJ Hospital, stating that he did not want to be hospitalised there and would “rather suffer” and “possibly die very shortly” if things were to go on as they were. He requested the court that he be granted interim bail and allowed to go to his home in Ranchi.

Swamy was produced before the division bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade through video-conference from Taloja central jail, where he is lodged in the hospital ward since his admission. Swamy approached the High Court seeking interim bail after the special NIA court rejected his plea made on grounds including his health and the current Covid-19 situation.

Swamy suffers from Parkinson’s disease, has difficulty hearing and other age-related ailments. The court had asked for his medical report to be submitted, for which Swamy was taken to JJ Hospital for tests this week. When produced, Swamy could not hear the court’s questions and had to be helped by a person sitting with him. When asked about whether he was taken to JJ Hospital, Swamy said that he wanted to speak about his condition.

“…what I want to say is how I am. When I came here eight months ago, the core systems of my body were still functional. Since then, there has been a steady regression of my bodily functions. Eight months ago, I would eat by myself, could do some writing on my own, walk, take a bath, but these are disappearing one after another,” Swamy told the court. He said that while food is provided by the jail authorities, he is unable to eat by himself and requires to be fed by a spoon. He also said that earlier he could put on his hearing aid and follow a conversation but now he is unable to do that.

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The court noted the difficulty he was facing in hearing and following the conversation. He asked the court to consider why the regression in his condition had happened. “My deterioration is more powerful than the tablets they are giving me,” he told the court. The bench asked him if he wanted to be shifted to JJ Hospital or any other hospital, but Swamy refused stating that the court should grant him interim bail so that he can go to Ranchi and be with his own. “I would rather suffer, possibly die here very shortly if things go on as it is,” he told the court, saying that it was a “difficult moment” for him.

Senior advocate Mihir Desai attempted to explain to Swamy that while his interim bail plea will be heard later, he should consider getting admitted to a hospital. Swamy said he did not think it would make a difference. “Whatever happens to me, I would like to be with my own,” he said. Desai told the court that Swamy had been admitted to the prison hospital which did not have an MBBS doctor. He sought permission from the court to speak with Swamy again to see if he agrees to be hospitalised. The court allowed Desai’s request and posted the matter on June 7. It directed Taloja jail authorities to follow the recommendations of the JJ Hospital panel which had examined Swamy

Swamy was arrested from Ranchi on October 8 by the National Investigation Agency (NIA). The central agency brought him to Mumbai and produced him before a court the next day. His police custody was not sought and he has been in jail since. Swamy’s regular bail plea is also pending before the Bombay High Court.


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