Friday, June 14, 2024

Stan Swamy’s death: Lawyer demands judicial inquiry, says NIA and Taloja prison responsible

After the death of renowned activist Father Stan Swamy who was arrested under draconian UAPA in the Elgar Parishad case last year, Swamy’s lawyer Mihir Desai demanded a judicial inquiry into the matter.

Desai, who has been representing Swamy since his arrest, told the court that he does not have any complaint against Holy Family Hospital or the high court, but held the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Taloja central prison responsible for Swamy’s death.

Stan Swamy was being treated at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai, following a court order on May 28. 84 year old Swamy was denied medical care for over ten days before he was finally moved to Holy Family Hospital on May 30. During those 10, days, Swamy had complained of fever and weakness.

Last week, Stan Swamy had filed a fresh plea for bail in the High Court, challenging a section of the draconian Unlawful UAPA that imposes stringent conditions for bail to an accused charged under the Act.

According to Desai, Taloja central prison, which lacks proper medical facilities, failed to provide adequate medical treatment to the elderly activist and his health had deteriorated by the time he was moved out to a hospital. Swamy was put on a ventilator support and was unconscious ever since.

According to Live Law, soon after the Holy Family Hospital informed the court about Swamy’s death, Desai asked that a post mortem to be conducted on Swamy’s body and all guidelines laid down by the National Human Rights Commission in the case of a custodial death be followed. The court agreed.

The renowned human rights defender Swamy, an Indian Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Jesuit order, and a tribals rights activist for several decades, was arrested in October last year, was sent to judicial custody immediately and since has been in Taloja prison.

Swamy was the oldest person to be accused of terrorism in India.

There have been widespread protests across India with the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), All India Catholic Union, the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, Kerala Catholic Bishops’ Conference (KCBC), Kerala Latin Catholic Association (KLCA), Kerala Jesuit Provincial, Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences (FABC), and the international Jesuit community, calling for his release.

In a protest on 21 October 2020, leaders of opposition political parties such as Shashi Tharoor, Sitaram Yechury, D. Raja, Supriya Sule and Kanimozhi along with economist Jean Dreze, Dr Joseph Marianus Kujur, the director of the Ranchi-based Xavier Institute of Social Sciences, activists Dayamani Barla and Rupali Jadhav, and lawyer Mihir Desai called for Stan’s release.

The arrest has been termed as politically motivated due to his work among the Adivasi community.

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