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Elgaar Parishad case: Bombay HC directs Stan Swamy’s health check-up at J J Hospital

Swamy’s lawyers, on Monday, had moved a note in the High Court seeking urgent hearing of his medical bail plea claiming the lack of medical facilities in prison and lack of physical distancing due to overcrowding and Swamy’s deteriorating health.

The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed state prison authorities to conduct a medical check-up of Father Stan Swamy (84), arrested in the Elgar Parishad case at J J Hospital on Thursday, May 20 noon.

The Court directed the Dean of J J Hospital to form a committee of doctors including neuro-physician, ENT specialist, Orthopedic surgeon, general physician and any other doctor to examine Swamy on Thursday and submit a report by May 21.

Swamy, arrested in October 2020, is currently lodged in the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai and is suffering from ill health.

A vacation bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice S P Tavade was hearing an appeal by Swamy against special court order rejecting his bail plea on medical grounds.

Swamy’s lawyers, on Monday, had moved a note in the High Court seeking urgent hearing of his medical bail plea claiming the lack of medical facilities in prison and lack of physical distancing due to overcrowding and Swamy’s deteriorating health. HC had accepted the request and listed the matter for hearing on Wednesday.

Senior Counsel Mihir Desai representing Stan Swamy had also submitted that his client is in the advanced stages of Parkinson’s disease, he cannot hear and stand on his own. He said that with the spread of Covid-19 in prisons, his plea should be considered and he should be released at least on temporary medical bail for some period.

As per the note submitted by Swamy’s lawyer, Taloja jail inmates had informed that there are 26 Covid positive cases and co-accused Hany Babu, who is in the same jail hospital as Swamy has also contracted coronavirus.

The note claimed that Taloja prison can officially house only 2124 inmates and requires only 2/3rd of the official prison capacity of 1416 inmates to maintain physical distancing norms. However, according to Maharashtra State Prison website on April 13, Taloja Prison housed 3251 inmates, the note said,

Desai, in his note filed on May 17 in HC stated that Swamy’s health conditions have further deteriorated as per his colleagues, and he had complained of fever and weakness.

The note said that Swamy is currently taking allopathic medicines, including antibiotics prescribed by Ayurvedic doctors in Taloja Jail hospital. The lawyer further submitted that in view of his ill health and severe comorbidities, Swamy is at risk of getting infected by Covid-19.

Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), a probing agency opposed the plea.

On May 4, HC had directed the state government to submit a medical report on the health of Swamy and had also directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to file a response to Swamy’s bail applications.

Taloja prison authority in its report stated that general condition of Swamy was stable and that he was provided a high protein diet, hot water for bathing and provided two attendants- the prisoners at their willingness to look after him.

Taloja Central prison authority also submitted that it is providing a mattress, bed sheet, pillow, sipper, walker and walking sticks, commode and he is examined by psychiatrists on regular intervals. Additional Public Prosecutor J P Yagnik for the state submitted that Swamy had ‘stable pumping heart and good circulation of blood’ and he is vaccinated for covid-19.

However, senior counsel Mihir Desai disputed the correctness of the Taloja jail report and said that there was no mention of abdomen pain and pain due to lumbar spondylitis among other ailments in the report.

To ascertain the rival claims, the HC ordered Swamy’s health check up and sought a report to be submitted by Friday 11 am.

“In the event of Taloja prison having video conference facility, it shall produce appellant Swamy before the court on May 21,” HC said and posted further hearing to Friday.

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