Elgar case: HC likely to hear accused Swamy's bail plea on Wed

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Mumbai, May 18 (PTI) The Bombay High Court is likely to hear the medical bail plea of Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad Maoists Links case, on Wednesday.

The 84-year-old activist, arrested in October 2020, is currently lodged in the Taloja prison in Navi Mumbai and is battling ill health.

Swamy's advocate, senior counsel Mihir Desai, has submitted a note in the HC detailing the lack of medical aid at the Taloja prison, the impossibility of social distancing (required during COVID-19) in the overcrowded jail, and his client's deteriorating health condition amidst all of this.

Earlier this month, Desai was granted permission by a HC bench, led by Justice SS Shinde, to move the vacation bench seeking hearing on Swamy's bail plea on medical grounds.

Accordingly, Desai is likely to mention the plea for an urgent hearing before the vacation bench on Wednesday.

Swamy had approached the HC earlier this year challenging a special court's decision in March. In the order, the special court had rejected his bail sought on medical grounds as well as on merits.

In the last hearing in the HC on May 4, the bench led by Justice Shinde had directed the authorities in Maharashtra to file a report on Swamy's current health condition by May 15.

At the time, advocate Desai had told the bench that Swamy, since his arrest seven months ago, had remained in the Taloja prison hospital, which has just three Ayurveda doctors and no other physicians or trained medical staff.

He had said that Swamy was in advanced stages of Parkinson's disease, a brain disorder that gets worse over time.

The octogenarian activist has lost the ability to hear, and given the raging COVID-19 pandemic, the court must at least grant Swamy temporary bail, advocate Desai had said.

Advocate Desai, in his note filed on May 17 in the HC, has stated that Swamy's health condition has further deteriorated.

As per the note, Swamy's colleagues have said that in the last phone call with them, Swamy had complained of fever and weakness.

Swamy is currently taking several allopathic medicines, including anti-biotics prescribed by the Taloja hospital's Ayurveda doctors, the note said.

It stated that Professor Hany Babu, Swamy's co-accused in the case, is also lodged in the Taloja prison and has tested positive for COVID 19.

The note said given his ill health and severe co- morbidities, Swamy is at risk of contracting COVID-19 and that his life is under imminent threat due to his medical condition, his advanced age, and the lack of medical facilities at the Taloja prison.

The case relates to alleged inflammatory speeches delivered at the 'Elgar Parishad' conclave, held at Shaniwarwada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the police claimed triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon- Bhima war memorial located on the city''s outskirts.

The Pune police had claimed the conclave was backed by Maoists.

The probe in the case, in which more than a dozen activists and academicians have been named accused, was later transferred to the National Investigation Agency. PTI AYA RSY RSY

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