Bombay HC issues notice to NIA on bail plea by Octogenarian Stan Swamy in Elgar Parishad case

THE Bombay High Court Tuesday issued notice to the National Investigation Agency (NIA) on a plea filed by octogenarian Father Stan Swamy, seeking bail on medical grounds.

A bench of Justices SS Shinde and Manish Pitale also directed the Taloja jail authorities to file a report indicating Stan Swamy’s health status.

The bench listed the matter in the week commencing from May 15.

The court also condoned the delay of 180 days in filing the medical bail plea after it was rejected by the NIA Court in October 2020. The court was informed of the Supreme Court’s decision of April 27 extending the limitation period until further order in view of the Covid19 situation in the country.

Swamy, a Ranchi resident, has been lodged in Taloja Central Jail for the past six months in connection with his alleged involvement in the Elgar Parishad case.

Appearing for Swamy, Senior Advocate Mihir Desai argued that this was a fit case for grant of urgent medical bail. He informed the court that Swamy is old, suffering from various ailments including Parkinson’s disease, hearing loss in both ears, abdominal pain, as well as injury to his arms. “He is at high risk of getting infected by Covid”, Desai added.

The court also issued notice to the NIA in another plea seeking regular bail which was earlier rejected by an NIA Court in March 2021.

The court inquired about the status of the case at the NIA court. To this, Desai submitted that the trial would take too long as even charges were yet to be framed and that there were over 200 witnesses. Desai also added that even though Swamy’s house was raided in August 2018, he wasn’t arrested for two years.

In his interim plea, Stan Swamy submitted that he was suffering from many ailments, including hearing loss from both ears and injuries in his arms.

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The plea added that he had undergone two operations and was still suffering from abdominal pain; he was also suffering from intense pain from lumbar spondylosis and tremors in both hands due to Parkinson’s.

It said Swamy was shifted to the prison hospital and was being taken care of by other inmates.

The plea highlighted that Swamy was already in an advanced stage of Parkinson’s – he was unable to talk, walk, or carry out daily chores without help and every day his health was deteriorating.

It contended that he had been targeted by the investigation agency due to the nature of his writings about caste and land struggles of the people in India and includes research on undertrial Adivasis.

In March 2021, the NIA Court while rejecting Swamy’s plea for regular bail held that from the documents on record, prima facie, it could be gathered that the applicant alongwith other members of a banned organisation had hatched a serious conspiracy to create unrest in the entire country and to overpower the government, politically and by using muscle power.

“The material placed on record thus prima facie denote that the applicant was not only the member of banned organisation CPI (Maoist) but he was carrying out activities further in the objective of the organisation which is nothing but to overthrow democracy of the nation”, it said.

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Referring to the exchange of around 140 e-mails between Swamy and co-accused, the NIA court said, without making reference to each and every e-mail, “suffice it to say that there was exchange of e-mails between the applicant and the co-accused. This goes to suggest that the applicant was also in touch with the co-accused. This can be said to be additional link to connect the applicant with the co-accused”.

Swamy maintained that there was no prima facie material for implicating him. He pointed out the delay in lodging the report and the same has not been explained.

He said he had not played role in ‘Elgaar Parishad’; he was not even present at the time of said meeting. He had not been named in the FIR and his name was revealed for the first time in the remand report dated 21.08.2018.