The Bombay High Court on Monday, 19 July, said that Father Stan Swamy – an 84-year-old undertrial in the Bhima Koregaon case who passed away awaiting bail – was a wonderful person and that the court had “great respect” for his work.
The court was hearing posthumously the pleas filed by Father Swamy, in connection with the case, when Justice SS Shinde, as per LiveLaw, said:
“I was informed about the timing of the funeral service. Such a wonderful person. The kind of services he has rendered to the society. We have respect for his work.”Justice SS Shinde
Adding that legally, “whatever is there against him is a different matter”, the high court judge shared that even though they normally don’t get time for TV, “we saw this funeral, and it was very graceful".
On Flak Post Swamy’s Death
Referring to flak garnered by the NIA and the judiciary post Stan Swamy’s death, the court said that it had made sure to remain fair while passing orders on his medical bail plea, as well as on the pleas filed by his co-accused.
“You came to us with his medical bail plea on 28 May and we acceded to every prayer, every time,” the court told Swamy’s counsel Mihir Desai, as per PTI.
“Outside, we are speechless. Only you (Desai) can clarify this. You have said it on record that you have no grievance with this court in the matter.”Bombay High Court
Further, the Bombay High Court pointed out that they allowed bail to co-accused Varavara Rao and permitted co-accused Hany Babu to pick the hospital of his choice for treatment for his acute eye infection.
What Did Stan Swamy’s Counsel Say?
Desai, on his part, said: “Let me say on record that I am extremely happy with various benches of the HC that heard this matter.”
However, according to PTI, the senior advocate also urged the HC to allow Swamy’s aide and another priest, father Frazer Mascarenhas, to participate in the magisterial inquiry into Swamy’s death that was initiated under Section 176 of the CrPC.
Further, he asked the court to direct the magistrate, conducting the probe, to adhere to the UNHRC guidelines on such inquiries and for a report of the probe to be submitted in the HC.
As pointed out by Livelaw, in an earlier hearing, Desai had said that his main grievance was against the NIA and the prison officials.
Court Expresses Regret Over Undertrials Languishing in Prisons
As per PTI, the Bombay High Court bench, however, expressed regret over how, in several cases, undertrials languished in prisons waiting for the trial to begin.
“You take instructions on how many witnesses, how long will the trial take. We have to look at it practically,” the HC reportedly told the NIA counsel.
“The concern is that for how many years can people be asked to languish in jail without a trial. Not only in this case, but the question will arise on other cases also.”Bombay High Court
Stan Swamy’s Death
Father Stan Swamy's death, as an incarcerated undertrial in the Bhima Koregaon case, has sparked outrage and triggered international condemnation.
Swamy was 84 years old, suffered from Parkinson’s disease, and had told the Bombay High Court, weeks before his death, that all he wanted was to go home.
Swamy had shared that his “body functions” had undergone steady regression in jail, but he would still prefer dying in jail, to being admitted to a government hospital in Mumbai — something he had done multiple times before, only to see no improvement.
He breathed his last in Mumbai’s Holy Family hospital, on 5 July, a day before his bail hearing. But this wasn’t his first application. His bail pleas had been rejected multiple times before that.
Stan Swamy was a Jesuit priest and a tribal rights activist.
(With inputs from Livelaw and PTI.)
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