Taloja Jail Must Ensure Timely Medical Treatment for Hany Babu: Bombay HC

Babu had been in a private hospital in Mumbai since May, and is being discharged and sent back to the prison today.

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New Delhi: Delhi University associate professor Hany Babu, an accused in the Elgar Parishad case who is undergoing treatment at a private hospital in Mumbai since May, will be discharged and sent back to the Taloja prison on Wednesday, the Maharashtra government told the Bombay high court on Tuesday.

A bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar took on record Babu’s medical report submitted by the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai, and accepted the state government’s submission. Babu’s counsels, senior advocate Yug Chaudhry and advocate Payoshi Roy, told the high court that as per the private hospital, Babu was fit to be discharged.

Roy said as per the hospital, the professor is ready for discharge, but there is still some swelling in his eye and he should be taken for regular follow-ups to the medical centre in south Mumbai.

Babu was sent to the private hospital in May this year following an order of the high court. At the hospital, he had been undergoing treatment for an eye infection that he had developed while in the Taloja prison.

He had also tested positive for COVID-19 while at the prison in Navi Mumbai.

Following a plea filed by Babu’s wife Jenny Rowena, seeking immediate medical aid for the academic, the high court had directed that he be treated at the private hospital and the medical bills be borne by him and his family.

On Tuesday, the bench led by Justice Shinde directed that after Babu was back in prison he must be provided with medical care whenever required.

Justice Shinde said that the academician must be taken to state-run JJ Hospital in the city for follow-up check-ups for his eye, and if required, he be taken to the Breach Candy Hospital as well.

Also read: ‘How Many Years Can People Be in Jail Without Trial?’: Bombay HC at Stan Swamy Hearing

The Maharashtra government’s chief public prosecutor, Aruna Pai, told the high court that if Babu is taken to the private hospital for consultations in the future, he must bear the medical cost himself. The high court, however, said such medical consultation costs must be borne by the state authorities.

“Supposing some treatment is not available (at JJ Hospital), you (prison authorities) can take him to Breach Candy for consultation,” the bench said. “Article 21 of the Constitution (dealing with protection of life and personal liberty) applies to all equally. There are various judgements (of the Supreme Court) that say treatment (of undertrials) is the state’s responsibility,” it said.

“If the systems can be improved and infrastructure can be provided (prisons)… We can only suggest, ultimately, it’s in the hand of the state,” the court continued, according to LiveLaw.

“Only thing is, he (Babu) should get timely treatment,” the high court observed.

Sixteen rights activists, lawyers and scholars have been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, which many see as a witch-hunt against those who dissent against the government and work for the people. One of the accused, octogenarian Stan Swamy, passed away while in custody. All the accused in the case who have faced medical issues while in prison have had to go to court each time even to access basic treatment.

(With PTI inputs)