Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoist links case, has died, an official of a hospital where he was being treated informed the Bombay High Court on Monday.
Swamy, 84, died at 1.30 pm on Monday, Dr Ian D’Souza, director of the Holy Family Hospital in suburban Bandra, told the HC’s division bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar.
The tribal rights activist was admitted to the private hospital on May 29 from the Taloja prison, following the HC’s order on a petition filed by him, seeking medical attention as he was then suffering from Covid and Parkinson’s disease.
D’Souza told the court that Swamy suffered a cardiac arrest on Sunday morning following which he was put on ventilator support.
“He (Swamy) did not recover and passed away on Monday afternoon,” the official told the court.
The cause of the death is pulmonary infection, Parkinson’s disease and post-Covid complications, he said.
Swamy’s counsel Mihir Desai said there was negligence on part of the Taloja prison authorities, who failed to provide immediate medical attention to the Jesuit priest.
Swamy was arrested by the National Investigation Agency in October 2020 and had been in jail since then.
Swami had challenged in the Bombay High Court a provision of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) dealing with grant of bail, contending it has created an “insurmountable hurdle” for those seeking relief. Swamy said section 43D(5) of the UAPA was violative of the accused person’s fundamental right to life and liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution.
Swamy’s plea stated that presumption of innocence is a fundamental tenet of criminal jurisprudence and when a harsh condition is imposed on grant of bail, even before the trial is conducted, the same “inverts on its head, the principle of presumption of innocence.”
His lawyer Mihir Desai said the plea also stated that the provision under the UAPA to brand certain organisations as a front for banned or terrorist organisations was bad in law. The UAPA provides for the declaration of an association as unlawful and for the listing of organisations in the first schedule of the Act as terrorist organisations.