The Supreme Court on Friday issued notice in a plea filed by self-styled godman and life convict, Asaram Bapu, challenging the Rajasthan High Court's order wherein his petition seeking temporary suspension of sentences to pursue medical treatment was dismissed.
A Bench of Justices BR Gavai and Krishna Murari heard Senior Advocate Sidharth Luthra's submissions on behalf of the Petitioner and proceeded to issue notice, stating that it would be returnable in one week.
The Court has further agreed to examine if the Petitioner can be temporarily shifted to an ayurvedic centre as sought by him.
Luthra argued before the Court that the Petitioner was a 83-84 year old man whose medical condition was dire and required immediate holistic medical treatment. He presented reports to the Court and submitted that the treatment at AIIMS, Jodhpur was not sufficient as he had been given blood thinners, thereby making him bleed profusely.
The Court asked Luthra if there was any centre in particular where the Petitioner sought to be admitted and Luthra informed the Bench that he wanted to be treated at Prakash Deep Institute of Ayurveda.
Accordingly, the Bench issued notice in the matter.
On 21st May, 2021, a Bench of Justice Sandeep Mehta and Justice Devendra Kachhawaha of Rajasthan High Court, had directed the district and jail administration to ensure that Asaram is provided with proper treatment, a nutritious diet, and a safe environment looking to his old age and medical condition.
The Court refused to grant him the relief, after the perusal of the rape convict's medical report submitted by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences in Jodhpur, where he was admitted after contracting COVID-19.
Importantly, the Court said,
"Suspending the sentences awarded to the appellant, in this case, would be nothing short of an exercise in futility because immediately on his release from the Central Jail, Jodhpur, he would be required to be taken to the State of Gujarat in connection with the case pending trial as a production warrant certainly would be in force."
The Court also rejected the prayer to set up a medical facility at his Ashram in Pal Village, Jodhpur so as to provide him treatment, while noting that whenever he had been taken out from prison even for attending the dates of hearing during the trial, his followers would form huge congregations which would create law and order situations.
An application for temporary suspension of sentences had been moved by life convict Asaram (in a sexual assault case), aged about 83 years, who is also facing trial in another case at Gujarat involving the offence under Section 376 IPC and is presently in custody in connection with the said case as well.
He got infected by COVID-19 Virus while suffering Life Imprisonment at the Central Jail, Jodhpur, and as a measure to provide treatment, he was shifted to the M.D.M. Hospital, Jodhpur, and was later on shifted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jodhpur.
In the intervening period, as per his medical reports, he developed internal gastrointestinal bleeding as a result whereof, his hemoglobin dropped to a critically low level, and accordingly, he was provided treatment for the said disorder including blood transfusion, etc.
Court's calls for his medical report
Thereafter, the Rajasthan High Court on May 19 sought a report on the medical condition of Asaram Bapu, a life convict in a sexual assault case, who is presently undergoing treatment at AIIMS, Jodhpur.
Taking into account his medical report, the Court noted that as per the conclusion of the treating doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Jodhpur, the condition of the applicant-appellant was stable and he was fit for discharge.
However, it had been advised that the appellant required further investigation and follow-up for his gastrointestinal bleeding. Thus, his counsel argued that he wished to receive Ayurveda treatment at a medical facility at his Ashram at Pal Village, Jodhpur.
It was also submitted that in case, the sentences awarded to Asharam are suspended, he and his followers are ready and willing to abide by any condition which may be imposed by the Court.
However, rejecting his prayers, the instant application for temporary suspension of sentences was dismissed by directing,
"The district and jail administration to ensure that proper treatment is provided to the convict appellant at the suitable medial institution in light of the observations made in the medical reports/ certificates issued from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Jodhpur."