Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has reserved its order over a petition filed by Maoist leader Nirmala Uppuganti seeking to be transferred to hospice for palliative care due to her terminal illness.
Uppuganti was arrested in 2019 along with her husband for their alleged involvement in the Gadchiroli Naxal attack of 2019, in which 15 police personnel and one civilian died. According to prosecution, they are allegedly senior members of the banned organisation, Communist Party of India (Maoist).
A division bench of justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar was hearing a petition filed by Uppuganti seeking transfer to hospice stating that she has stage four cancer and was suffering from multiple skeletal metastases and lung metastases. She has also sought that she be allowed to meet her husband, who is a co-accused in the case.
While reserving the order, the judges asked Uppuganti’s advocate Payoshi Roy to be optimistic and not keep saying “petitioner’s (Uppuganti’s) last few days”.
Justice Shinde said: “You should be optimistic, why are you restricting her life to last few days? She may live longer. First we are humans, then we are judges.”
The judges also said that Article 21 (protection of life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India was applicable to everyone, including the prisoners. “There are ‘n’ number of judgments. Certainly, discretion has to be used and we cannot go beyond the law, but we will consider all angles,” added Justice Shinde.
Uppuganti has said in her petition that she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018. She has claimed that she was illegally detained by the Maharashtra police in June 2019 due to which she was forced to miss her chemotherapy cycle, deteriorating her condition.
Her lawyer, Roy, argued that her cancer had advanced to stage four and that Uppuganti was kept in a crowded prison cell where she had to sleep on the floor with no access to basic facilities like toilets, hot water and other medical facilities.
The plea states that the Byculla prison was grossly inadequate and the prison authorities were incapable of caring for her and giving her basic palliative care.
Her petition reads: “Given the petitioner's precarious condition, she requires close monitoring and supervision with adequate personal attention and easy access to critical lifesaving equipment.”
Seeking palliative case, Uppuganti has also prayed that she allowed to meet her husband.
Additional Public Prosecutor Sangeeta Shinde opposed the petition and argued that Uppuganti was being taken to the Tata Memorial Care Centre thrice a week on alternate days to ensure she gets her treatment as directed by her doctors.
Prosecutor also said she was lodged a cell with two convicts who are taking care of her. Also, she able to move and her treatment will continue at the Tata Hospital, said Shinde.
The prosecution also argued that Uppuganti was an accused in a bomb blast case.
However, Roy contended that there was no cure for Uppuganti’s illness and the treatment was only to reduce her pain. Roy argued: “She (Uppuganti) is beyond possibility of cure. The radiation and chemotherapy is only to reduce her pain, it is only for pain management. Nowhere have the respondents stated that she can be looked after even for the basic care.”
(To receive our E-paper on whatsapp daily, please click here. We permit sharing of the paper's PDF on WhatsApp and other social media platforms.)