Father Stan Swamy, tribal rights activist and an accused in the Elgaar Parishad – Bhima Koregaon Case has approached the Bombay High Court challenging rejection of his bail pleas by the Special Court under the National Investigating Agency Act.
The 84-year-old Jesuit priest has filed an appeal against two orders of the NIA court, the first rejecting his emergency bail application on health grounds in October, last year, and the second order from March 21, 2021, rejecting his bail plea on merits.
In the appeals filed through advocate Mihir Joshi, Father Stand has cited his advanced age and acute Parkinsons for relief, apart from contending that no case was made out against him.
Father Stan was arrested on October 8, 2020, and charged under various sections of the IPC and offenses under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act for allegedly furthering the cause of banned CPI (Maoist) through various civil rights organizations he is a part of.
Father Stan is the conveyor of the Persecuted Political Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPPSC), one of the most prominent human rights organizations providing legal aid in Jharkhand. He is also the founder of Bagaicha, an organization dedicated to empowering Adivasis, including fighting against illegal detention of minors charged with being Maoists. The NIA claimed that Bagaicha is connected with Vistapan Virodhi Jan Vikas Andolan (VVJVA) and the latter is also a frontal organization of the CPI (Maoist).
While rejecting his bail application on March 21, special judge DE Kothlikar said, "The material placed on record thus prima facie denotes that the applicant [Fr. Swamy] was not only a member of the banned organization, Communist Party of India (Maoist), but was also carrying out activities with the objective of the organization, which is nothing but to overthrow the democracy of the nation."
The Court cited several other grounds for rejecting his bail application, accepting the electronic evidence despite serious questions about their authenticity, and accepting the statements of witnesses who didn't understand the language, among others.
In an earlier application, Father Stan said he suffers from hearing loss in both ears, has undergone two hernia operations. He suffers intense pain due to lumbar spondylosis i.e. the wear and tear of the lumbar disc, and tremors in both hands due to Parkinson's.
Father Stan is facing terror charges along with 15 other human rights activists. The prosecution is primarily based on letters retrieved from co-accused Rona Wilson and accused advocate Surendra Gadling's computer, to claim a conspiracy to kill the Prime Minister and overthrow the government.
Wilson has approached High Court in a separate petition to inquire into the planting of fabricated documents on his computer over around 22 months. His claims are by a report of Arsenal Consulting, a digital forensics consulting company in the USA, which has concluded that Wilson's computer was infected with malware, called NetWire (available for $10 online), which was planted through an email on June 13, 2016, two years before his arrest on Jun 6, 2018.