MUMBAI: Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has tested positive for coronavirus.
Swamy (84), who is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and several other ailments, was shifted from the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai to the Holy Family Hospital here on May 28, following the Bombay High Court’s orders.
His lawyer Mihir Desai said that Swamy was tested at the private hospital and his result came out positive for the coronavirus on Sunday. Desai alleged that this was a result of “criminal negligence” on part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide adequate care to the inmates and conduct their RT-PCR tests timely.
On May 28, a bench of Justices SS Shinde and NR Borkar directed the state prison authorities to ensure Swamy was shifted from the Taloja prison to the hospital, after Desai moved the bench seeking an urgent hearing.
Swamy had been in the Taloja prison hospital since his arrest in the case in October 2020. Desai had earlier moved a vacation bench led by Justice SJ Kathawala, seeking medical aid and bail for Swamy on health grounds.
At that time, the bench said while the issue of medical bail would be decided later, Swamy could be shifted to the state-run JJ Hospital in Mumbai for treatment. Swamy, who was then present before the court via video-conferencing, refused to get admitted to the JJ Hospital, saying he had been there twice earlier already but found no relief.
He had said that he would rather die in prison than go to the JJ Hospital. Swamy had told the HC that his mental and physical health declined steadily while at the Taloja prison. He had urged the HC for interim bail.
Advocate Desai had told the bench that considering his ill health and co-morbidities, Swamy was at the risk of contracting the coronavirus infection. Swamy had said he was also worried about his co-inmates at the hospital.
On both the hearings, the NIA’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, and the state’s counsel, YP Yagnik, objected to advocate Desai’s request. They had said the state could not be expected to bear the cost of Swamy’s treatment at the private hospital and suggested he may be shifted to the JJ Hospital.
The bench led by Justice Shinde, however, permitted Swamy to be shifted to the Holy Family Hospital after Desai said the cost of treatment would be borne by Swamy and his aides.
The Elgar Parishad case is related to inflammatory speeches made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city.
The police have also claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links. The National Investigation Agency (NIA) later took over the probe into the case.