Bombay HC directs prison authorities to shift Stan Swamy to Holy Family Hospital

The Court has asked the hospital administration to permit the presence of one police constable in the hospital for Swamy's protection.

The Bombay High Court on Friday asked the state prison authorities to shift Father Stan Swamy, who is currently lodged at Taloja prison for his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad case, to the Holy Family Hospital “preferably during the course of the day”.

A vacation bench of Justices S S Shinde and N R Borkar conducted an urgent hearing on Swamy’s plea seeking interim bail after the special National Investigation Agency (NIA) court had rejected his petition on grounds, including his health and the current Covid-19 situation.

On May 19, the High Court had directed the Dean of J J Hospital to form an expert committee to examine Swamy’s medical condition and submit a report by May 21.

On May 21, Stan Swamy, who was produced before the court through videoconference from the jail, had submitted that his condition has seen a steady regression since he was imprisoned in October last year. However, he had refused the Court’s suggestion to be shifted to the state-run J J hospital stating that he did not want to be hospitalized there and would “rather suffer” and “possibly die very shortly” if things were to go on as they were.

Senior Counsel Mihir Desai, representing Swamy, had then sought an adjournment to “speak and convince” Swamy for treatment.

On Friday, Desai submitted that after speaking to Swamy, he was ready to undergo treatment at Holy Family Hospital and he will himself bear the cost.

“The health of the appellant is deteriorating and it is necessary to admit him so that he gets proper treatment,” Desai said, while adding that he will need an attendant at all times and that Father Frazer Mascerenhas, former principal of St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, who is Swamy’s friend, be permitted to stay with him.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, representing NIA, argued that shifting Swamy to Holy Family Hospital may not be necessary as J J Hospital has all facilities to treat him. He added that the order from the Bench allowing admission to the private hospital may undermine the government hospital’s capabilities and set a wrong precedent.

Singh also opposed the presence of any private person in the hospital, in case HC allows the same, stating that staff is sufficient to treat and look after him.

Additional Public Prosecutor J P Yagnik, appearing for the state prison authority, also opposed Desai’s submission and stated that Swamy was receiving proper care and medicines as recommended by the Committee of J J Hospital.

After hearing submissions, the Bench noted in its order: “It is not in dispute that the appellant’s age is 84 years and according to findings recorded by a team of doctors from JJ Hospital, he needs treatment. However, due to the present pandemic situation, and influx of patients, it may not be possible to give attention to the appellant in JJ Hospital.”

It added, “We are of the view that the appellant can be given a choice of Holy Family hospital for his treatment for 15 days. The appellant will bear the expenses. We request that the administration of the said hospital provide one attendant keeping in view the age of the appellant.”

The bench also allowed Father Frazer Masceranhas to visit Swamy at the hospital as per the facility’s protocols at regular intervals.

The Court further asked the hospital administration to permit the presence of one police constable in the hospital for Swamy’s protection.

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