Father Stan Swamy Dies At 84, Ahead Of Bail Hearing At Bombay HC

The NIA had arrested the 84-year-old Jesuit priest in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

Father Stan Swamy, a tribal activist and accused in the Bhima Koregaon case has passed away, Dr. Ian D'Souza, medical director of Holy Family Hospital informed Bombay High Court. The octogenarian suffered a cardiac arrest early morning on July 3 following which he was put on a ventilator. He never recovered from that and was declared dead at 1:24 pm on Monday, Dr. D'Souza told the high court.

The high court had scheduled a special hearing today after Swamy's lawyers moved an urgent plea this morning in light of his deteriorating condition. However, the 84-year-old Jesuit priest died an hour before the hearing could commence.

The high court on May 28 had directed Maharashtra prison authorities to shift Swamy, who was lodged at Pune's Taloja Jail, to Holy Family Hospital for 15 days. Swamy was shifted to the hospital ICU and put on oxygen support the same night. He later tested positive for COVID.

Earlier this year on March 22, a Mumbai sessions court had rejected Swamy's plea seeking bail on medical grounds. Apart from challenging his denial for bail on medical grounds, Swamy had also filed a plea against the provision under UAPA, which denies bail to those accused of terror activities unless the public prosecutor is heard on the issue.

Taking note of a complaint on his worsening health condition, the National Human Rights Commission issued notice to Maharashtra's Chief Secretary and directed the state to "ensure that every possible efforts are made in providing him proper medical care and treatment as part of life-saving measure and protection of his basic human rights".

Health deteriorating in Jail: Swamy to HC

During a previous hearing on May 21, Swamy told the high court that he would rather die in prison then go to state-run JJ Hospital. "I have been there twice, I am not for being hospitalised in JJ Hospital. It (health) won't improve, it'll keep going. I'd rather die here (in jail) very shortly if things go on as it is," Swamy said. On being inquired if he would prefer any other hospital, Swamy had replied in the negative.

"Earlier I could write, walk and even eat on my own. But since I have been in Taloja (jail), all this is slowly disappearing. I cannot write, walk or even eat on my own. Someone has to feed me with a spoon, Swamy had said.

"The only thing I request is for the court to consider for interim bail. I have been in deteriorating condition. I would rather be in Ranchi. I do not think any of that (hospitalisation) is going to help," Swamy had added.

At the time, the high court had acknowledged that Swamy's condition was due to old age. "He is an intelligent man, he is pressing for interim bail because he knows he is suffering from age-related problems," the bench had observed.

Swamy, one of Jharkhand's most prominent activists and a champion of forest and land rights, was arrested by the National Investigation Agency last year on October 8 in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. At the time of his arrest, Swamy was the 16th and the oldest person to be arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case.

Swamy and his co-accused have been charged under 10 sections of the Indian Penal Code, 1860, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), 1967.

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