The Delhi High Court has directed the RML Hospital and Tihar Jail authorities to ensure that the Kashmiri separatist leader Altaf Ahmad Shah - who has been in custody since 2018 in a terror funding case, is shifted to Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Science, after he was diagnosed with renal cancer.
Observing that Shah's medical record reveals that he is suffering from various ailments and, according to his daughter, he was also diagnosed with the Renal Cancer, Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain in the order passed on October 3 said:
"However, without going into the merits of the case as the right to have adequate and suitable treatment is the part of fundamental right as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution and after considering the totality of the circumstances and in the interest of justice it is ordered that the petitioner be shifted to AIIMS, Delhi for appropriate treatment under the judicial custody and direct supervision of the concerned Jail Superintendent and after following all necessary security measures."
According to Shah's family, he has not yet been shifted to the hospital. His daughter Ruwa Shah in a tweet posted yesterday said, "Despite Delhi High Court's order (that came more than 27 hours from now) to shift my ailing father who's on a ventilator, to AIIMS, he's not being moved from RML where he can't be treated for cancer. Losing every crucial moment for someone on life support."
Shah is the son-in-law of late Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and has been chargesheeted by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) in the 2017 case which accuses various separtist leaders in valley of acting in connivance with militants for raising, receiving and collecting funds domestically as well as broad through various illegal channels for "funding separatist and terrorist activities" in J&K. The accused in the case are charged under various offences of the Indian Penal Code and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
Justice Jain in the order also said that either Shah's son or daughter may be permitted to meet him once in a day for one hour in the Hospital subject to proper verification and as per the rules and regulations of AIIMS.
Senior Advocate Trideep Pais, appearing for Shah, during the hearing on Monday informed the court charge sheet has already been filed in the case and trial is pending before a special NIA court. The court was told that Shah was recently admitted in RML hospital for treatment, and subsquently his daughter came to know that he was suffering from the last stage of Renal Cancer.
Arguing that RML Hospital does not have the adequate facility to treat the said ailment, Pais submitted that Renal Cancer has already affected Shah's various body parts. Shah is also suffering from multiple organ failure thereby requiring urgent treatment at any other hospital, he added, while urging the court to order his shifting either to Apollo Hospital or AIIMS in Delhi.
On the other hand, a Special Public Prosecutor appearing for NIA submitted that there was no medical record available disclosing that Shah was suffering from Renal Cancer or that doctors at RML Hospital have recommended his transfer to any other hospital.
However, Pais referred to an affidavit sworn by Shah's daughter, deposing that he was suffering from renal cancer, according to the information given by doctors on duty at RML Hospital. He also cited the Supreme Court's judgement in Gautam Navlakha v. National Investigation Agency.
Granting relief to Shah, the court disposed of the plea while clarifying that necessary expenses likely to be incurred in Shah's shifting from RML Hospital to AIIMS shall be borne by him.
"Accordingly, the present petition is disposed of. However, the petitioner shall be at liberty to file appropriate application in case any need is arises in future for any further direction regarding the medical treatment of the petitioner. In the exigency of the circumstances, the Special Judge may take up the matter at his residence also during vacations," the court added.
The court has asked the Medical Superintendent/Chief Medical Officer of RML Hospital to ensure necessary compliance of the order. Shah was also represented by Advocate Rajat Kumar.
Speaking to LiveLaw, Ruwa Shah, the separatist leader's daughter, said the authorities are unwilling to shift him to AIIMS Delhi and were planning to move him to AIIMS Jhajjar instead. However, she said, the police objected to it saying he has to be kept within its jurisdiction.
"We can take him to Apollo right now and get treatment started. We know he is at the terminal stage, we know he doesn't have time. We are just trying to prolong his life for as many days as we can because he is not giving up. Even the doctor was surprised, I just had a word with the doctor, he said his vitals have improved on their own. He is fighting, he is not giving up. Yesterday when I met him, with his finger he was writing on my..making an impression on my hand, saying AIIMS. He wants to live, he is fighting. He is not giving up," she said