Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has died, an official of a hospital where he was being treated informed the Bombay High Court on Monday.
Swamy, 84, died at 1.30 pm on Monday, Dr Ian D'Souza, director of the Holy Family Hospital in suburban Bandra, told the high court's division bench of Justices S.S. Shinde and N.J. Jamadar. The tribal rights activist was admitted to the private hospital on 29 May from the Taloja prison following the HC's order on a petition filed by him, seeking medical attention as he was then suffering from covid-19 and Parkinson's disease.
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D'Souza told the court that Swamy suffered a cardiac arrest early Sunday morning following which he was put on ventilator support. “He (Swamy) did not recover and passed away this afternoon,” the official told the court. The cause of the death is pulmonary infection, Parkinson's disease and post covid-19 complications, he said.
Swamy's counsel Mihir Desai said there was negligence on part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide immediate medical attention to the Jesuit priest. Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in October 2020 and had been in jail since then.
Apart from the obvious delay in giving him medical treatment, the cost of his care at the private hospital, too, was being borne by his associates and friends. On Saturday, advocate Desai had informed the high court bench that Swamy's health was critical and that he was still in the hospital's intensive care unit. The bench had then adjourned the hearing on Swamy's medical bail plea to Tuesday and extended his stay at the hospital till then.
On Sunday, Desai had said that he didn't have any complaints against the high court and the private hospital. "The high court bench did all that was possible to secure the best medical treatment for [Swamy]. And at the hospital, the best cardiologists and specialists are looking after him. Our only complaint is against the Taloja prison superintendent and against the NIA (the prosecuting agency in the case)," he said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on Sunday also issued a notice to the Maharashtra government in the wake of a complaint alleging serious health condition of the imprisoned activist. In the notice sent through the state's chief secretary, the NHRC called upon him to ensure every possible effort is made to provide proper medical care and treatment to Swamy as part of life-saving measure and protection of his basic human rights.
The commission also called for a report in the light of the allegations made in the complaint, and the treatment record of the activist. Swamy and his co-accused in the Elgar case have repeatedly complained of inadequate health facilities at the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai, where they were lodged as undertrials.
Last week, Swamy also filed a fresh plea in the HC, challenging section 43D(5) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), that imposes stringent bars on the grant of bail to an accused charged under the Act.
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