New Delhi: Octogenarian tribal activist Father Stan Swamy told the Bombay high court on Friday that he would rather die in Taloja jail, where he is currently lodged, than being admitted to a government hospital, while pleading for interim bail.
A division bench of Justices S.J. Kathawalla and S.P. Tavade while inquiring about his health specifically asked him if he was willing to get admitted to JJ Hospital in Mumbai until his health improves.
To which, Swamy said: “I have been there twice. I am not for being hospitalised in JJ Hospital. It will not improve, it will keep going. I would rather die here very shortly if things go on as it is,” Swamy said.
When Swamy’s lawyer Mihir Desai told the court that he may be apprehensive that he would be taken to a government hospital, the bench then asked Swamy if he would like to be admitted to another hospital. Swamy responded saying that he does not want to be admitted to any other either.
However, he said, “Only one thing that I would request the judiciary is to consider for interim bail. That is the only request.”
To this the court said, it would not be possible to consider his request to let him go to his hometown Ranchi. “Whatever happens to me, I would like to be with my own,” Swamy told the court.
The octogenarian activist informed the court that eight months since he had been at Taloja, his health condition had progressively deteriorated. He said he is now in a situation where he can neither eat, bathe, write or go for a walk on his own.
“Eight months ago, I would eat by myself, do some writing, walk, I could take bath by myself, but all these are disappearing one after another. So Taloja Jail has brought me to a situation where I can neither write nor go for a walk by myself. Someone has to feed me. In other words, I am requesting you to consider why and how this deterioration of myself happened. Yesterday I was taken to JJ Hospital, so I got an opportunity to explain what I should be given. My deterioration is more powerful than the small tablets that they give,” he submitted to the court.
After Swamy refused to get admitted to any hospital, his lawyer Mihir Desai sought the permission of the court for more time to convince him to get admitted to a hospital. Desai also told the court that Swamy had been in the prison hospital for about six months. “The problem with prison hospital is that they don’t have anything – no medical practitioner, no facility,” he said.
A JJ Hospital committee, which was constituted on Wednesday, May 19, to examine Swamy’s health condition, submitted its report to the court on Friday, May 21.
As Swamy continued to insist on staying at Taloja prison rather than shifting to a hospital, the court posted the matter for the next hearing on June 7. The prison authorities have been directed to follow the recommendations of the JJ Hospital committee as well as provide necessary facilities to Swamy.
The Friday’s hearing necessitated after the court had ordered prison authorities to produce Swamy before it to inquire on his health.
Swamy was arrested on October 8, 2020, and charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and offences under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly furthering the cause of banned CPI (Maoist) through various civil rights organisations, of which he is a part. Swamy is facing charges along with 15 other human rights activists.