Mumbai: 84-year-old Catholic priest Father Stan Swamy, arrested for his alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon case and who has been incarcerated in the Taloja prison for the last 8 months, on Friday sought the Bombay High Court bench of Justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Surendra Tawade to grant him interim bail, and told them that he would rather “prefer to suffer and die in Taloja prison than being admitted to any hospital.”
He also told the bench that he would want to be with his friends in Ranchi than be in any hospital.
In accordance with the previous order of the bench, Father Swamy after being examined by the doctors at Sir JJ Hospital on Thursday was produced before the bench via video conferencing from Taloja prison. Sir JJ Hospital authorities also submitted a report on Father Swamy’s health condition to the bench.
Justice Kathawalla on Friday morning asked Father Swamy if he was being generally treated well within the Taloja jail premises and if he had been examined at Sir JJ Hospital.
Father Swamy, who had to be informed by jail authorities sitting next to him about the question from the court as he could not hear the questions clearly, in a weak voice said, “I was brought to Taloja jail eight months ago and since then there has been a slow degeneration of my body. When I came here, my body was very functional. Earlier, I could take a bath by myself, some writing by myself. But these are disappearing one after another. Taloja jail has brought me to a situation where I can neither write nor go for a walk by myself or eat. I am not able to meet this demand. Eating is also difficult. Someone has to feed me with a spoon.”
Justice Kathawalla then asked Father Swamy, if he would like to be “admitted to Sir JJ Hospital for a few days to improve his general health conditions.” Father Swamy said, “I do not want to be admitted to JJ Hospital. It’s a very difficult moment for me. I am eating less and less and my co-accused are worried about me. I would prefer to suffer and die like this in Taloja jail than being admitted to JJ Hospital.”
Father Swamy and told the bench, “I am asking you to consider, why and how this regression of myself. Like yesterday I was taken to JJ hospital and so there were a lot of people but I had no opportunity to explain what I should be given. There are some medicines that the jail authorities have given me, but my deterioration is so much worse than the tablets they are giving me. So, I have come to you. Before I used to put on my earphones, any conversation I was able to follow. Now I am not able to.”
Swamy, the oldest person to be booked under terror charges, further said that the incarceration period has "radically affected" his health and said that he was finding it difficult to stay in the jail. Mihir Desai, senior counsel appearing for Father Swamy, sought permission of the court and tried to convince Father Swamy to be admitted at Holy Family hospital to undergo treatment for his general health conditions. But Father Swamy denied hospitalisation, and said, “I don’t want to be hospitalised. I would rather go to Ranchi and be with my friends.”
And then Father Swamy told the bench, “My only request is for interim bail.”
To this, Justice Kathawalla said, "There is no question of interim bail. All these issues related to his general health are owing to his old age." Desai then told the court that “Since he is a priest he goes into ‘Forgive them for they don’t know what they are doing’; he is taking that approach. I would want to talk to him and make him understand.”
The bench asked senior counsel Mihir Desai to speak to Swamy once and let him know the Court's opinion of not granting interim bail. Desai said he would speak to Swamy and come back to the court by the next date. "Till then, the Taloja jail authorities to strictly implement the recommendations issued by the expert panel of Taloja jail for Swamy's health," the bench ordered while adjourning the matter till June 7.