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Wonderful Person, Have Respect For His Work: Bombay HC Judge On Father Stan Swamy

Sharmeen Hakim
19 July 2021 9:26 AM GMT
Wonderful Person, Have Respect For His Work: Bombay HC Judge On Father Stan Swamy
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Justice SS Shinde of the Bombay High Court on Monday said late tribal rights activist and priest – Stan Swamy's – graceful funeral service after his demise on July 5 2021, had touched him. "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. Legally, whatever is...

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Justice SS Shinde of the Bombay High Court on Monday said late tribal rights activist and priest – Stan Swamy's – graceful funeral service after his demise on July 5 2021, had touched him.

"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. Legally, whatever is there against him is a different matter…We normally don't get time for TV, but we saw this funeral, and it was very graceful."

Eighty-four-year-old Swamy was the oldest activist arrested by the NIA in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgar Parishad case on October 8, 2020, and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

He passed away in a private hospital ahead of his bail hearing on July 5, and the same bench of Justices SS Shinde and NJ Jamadar asked the authorities to undertake all applicable inquiries into his demise.

On Monday, the court made the above observations while hearing Senior Advocate Mihir Desai's arguments to allow ex-Xaviers College Principal Father Frazer Mascaren has to join the mandatory Magisterial inquiry into Father Swamy's death as next of kin. The inquiry is under section 176(A) of the CrPC.

The bench told Desai that they couldn't control what was said outside the courtroom after Swamy's death, but it had ensured the ailing priest received the required medical attention from the moment his counsels mentioned that his health had deteriorated, on May 28, 2021.

"When the matter was heard (July 5), and the medical officer informed about the very, very sad news, you said you don't have a grievance against the hospital or the court… Every time we have acceded to your request. It is very unfortunate. We never imagined that this would happen. So far as our court is concerned, we give patient hearing to every side."

Desai agreed. He reiterated that he had no grievance against the Bench or the Holy Family Hospital that treated Father Swamy for a month before he passed away. Desai added that the court had taken up Father Swamy's medical bail twice out of turn.

However, in an earlier hearing, Desai had mentioned that his main grievance was against the NIA and the prison officials. Their acts led to deterioration in Swamy's health.

The court added that nobody mentioned the same bench had granted bail to 81-year-old Telugu poet Varavara Rao despite opposition. And also allowed his family to meet him.

Referring to the current scenario where several trials are stalled and stringent provisions under anti-terror laws make it difficult for an accused to be granted bail, the court said, "The concern is that for many years can people be asked to languish in jail without a trial. Not only in this case, but the question will arise in other cases also."

Counsel for NIA Sandesh Patil said he was objecting to Desai's submissions as the court was merely seized with Swamy's bail appeals. "Time and again it is projected that NIA is responsible for whatever has happened, that Jail authorities are responsible."

The court then granted NIA time and said it would take up the matter on Friday, first on board.

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