Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Jesuit priest and arguably the oldest Indian to be booked on terror charges for his alleged role in the Bhima-Koregaon violence at Pune, died at around 1.30 pm on Monday at the Holy Family Hospital in Bandra.
Dr Ian D’Souza from Holy Family appeared before the bench of Justices SS Shinde and N J Jamadar and informed that the ailing priest had died. "Swamy was a known case of COVID-19, with lung complication, also a case of Parkinson's, and a possible combination of the two led to septicemia", Dr D'Souza said, adding, "He was shifted to the ICU on Saturday after a cardiac arrest".
The bench expressed shock while it was scheduled to hear his bail plea and has asked the authorities to place on record the medical papers. The bench said, "We are shocked to hear this. We have no words to express our condolences".
Swamy was admitted in Holy Family in May this year after he complained of "steadily deteriorating health." The rights' activist had pressed for interim bail and said that he might die anytime soon and had accordingly expressed his desire to die among "his people" in Ranchi. He had complained that his health has deteriorated ever since his arrest in October last year and since then he was unable to do anything on his own and needed assistance to even eat.
In his last appearance via video conferencing from Taloja prison, Father Stan Swamy had refused to be hospitalised and had said, “I don’t want to be hospitalised. I would rather go to Ranchi and be with my friends”. And then Father Swamy had told the bench, “My only request is for interim bail".
Senior counsel Mihir Desai, appearing for Swamy, urged the bench to issue orders for a detailed judicial enquiry into his client's sudden death. "I have no grievances against the high court or the Holy Family hospital. My grievances are against Taloja prison and even NIA. My client was taken to JJ hospital at least a week before he was admitted at Holy Family. There he didn't test positive but his reports showed COVID-19 positive the moment he was admitted at Holy Family. This is nothing but negligence", Desai argued.
At this, Anil Singh, the additional solicitor general for the NIA, objected to the request but the bench said it isn't the right time to argue on these points. The judges, however, didn't pass any orders on the request.
Desai further informed the judges that since Swamy doesn't have any family as such, his body would be handed over to a friend and priest Fr. Frazer Francis. He even informed the judges that the body won't be taken to Ranchi and instead the funeral shall take place in Mumbai. The bench will again hear the matter on Tuesday.