Bombay High Court orders medical test for Father Stan Swamy
Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed Taloja central jail authorities to take Jharkhand-based Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Father Stan Swamy — an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case — to JJ Hospital for a medical examination on Thursday.
“The vacation bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and S.P. Tavade also directed JJ Hospital’s dean to form a committee of expert doctors, including a neuro-physician, an ENT specialist, an orthopaedic doctor, a general physician and other doctors, if required, for the medical examination, which has to happen on Thursday at 11am,” Father Swamy’s legal counsel, senior advocate Mihir Desai, said over phone from Mumbai.
“The bench further asked the state government to submit a report of the medical examination before the high court by May 21 and asked the Taloja prison authorities to arrange for Father Stan Swamy to be produced before the high court via videoconference at 4pm on that day, if the prison has such facilities,” Desai added.
The bench was hearing a plea by Desai against the special NIA court’s decision in October last year to reject Swamy’s interim bail plea on medical grounds. Earlier in May, Desai was granted permission by a high court bench led by Justice S.S. Shinde to move the vacation bench, seeking a hearing on Swamy’s bail plea.
During the last hearing in the high court on May 4 this year, a bench had directed the state authorities to file a report on Swamy’s health by May 15.
Desai submitted a note in the high court on May 17, stating that Swamy was in poor health and detailing the lack of medical aid at the Taloja prison, the impossibility of social distancing (required during Covid-19) in the overcrowded jail and Swamy’s deteriorating condition amid all these.
The state’s counsel, Y.P. Yagnik, told the bench that Swamy was being taken care of in the prison and had been taken to JJ Hospital on Tuesday evening for the first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
Jesuits across the country, who run educational institutions, are continuing to hold special prayers for Swamy’s recovery and bail.
“We have been praying for Father Swamy since his arrest by the NIA in October last year from his Namkum residence near Ranchi. But with his health deteriorating, as communicated to us by Jesuit Father Joe Xavier, we are praying for his speedy recovery. We are specially praying for his bail,” Father Jerome Cutina, the provincial of Jamshedpur Jesuit province (which looks after Odisha, Singhbhum and Dhanbad region), told The Telegraph.
“His life is under imminent threat due to his pre-existing medical condition, advanced age, lack of medical facilities at Taloja central jail and the coronavirus that has breached the prison walls and already infected a fellow inmate who was sharing the same hospital ward with Swamy,” a senior Jesuit based in Ranchi said on the condition of anonymity.