Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, accused of engineering riots using the platforms of Elgar Parishad and Maoists, told the Bombay high court on Friday that his health has deteriorated steadily since his arrest, but he would rather “suffer and possibly die” than getting treatment at a state-run hospital here.
Stan Swamy, 84, was produced before a bench of Justices SJ Kathawalla and SP Tavade through video conference from the Taloja prison in neighbouring Navi Mumbai where he is lodged as an under-trial.
The prison authorities also submitted a medical report from Mumbai’s JJ Hospital, where Stan Swamy had been examined earlier this week in compliance with the high court’s order.
The bench read out the report, which stated that Stan Swamy suffers from extreme hearing loss in both ears, his upper limbs were sluggish and suffered tremors. It also said that he required physical assistance in the form of a walking stick or wheelchair.
However, his overall condition (including the pulse rate) was stable and Stan Swamy was “responsive” and “cooperative,” the report said. Swamy told the court that he had suffered much while in prison. “I was brought here eight months ago. When I came to Taloja, my whole system, my body was still very functional. But during these eight months, I have gone through a steady regression of all bodily functions,” Swamy said.
“The main issue is that eight months ago I could take a bath by myself; I could take a walk; I could do some writing by myself. But all of these are disappearing one after another. So, Taloja jail brought me to a situation where I can neither write nor go for a walk by myself. I can’t eat. Somebody has to feed me through a spoon,” he said.
The bench then asked if Stan Swamy wished to be admitted to the state-run JJ Hospital for “general treatment to improve his overall health.” Swamy, however, said that he had been admitted to that hospital on two previous occasions and he did not think that admission there could help him. “What medicines will the JJ Hospital give me? I have been there twice. I know the set-up. I don’t want to go there,” Swamy said.
“I would rather suffer and possibly die. I would rather be in Ranchi with my friends,” Stan Swamy said, insisting that he be granted interim bail instead. The bench, however, said that the court was hearing arguments on the point of hospital admission only and not on interim bail. It further said that Swamy’s health problems seemed to be general in nature and were probably just “age-related.”
Stan Swamy’s advocate, senior counsel Mihir Desai, urged the court to adjourn the hearing for a week to permit him to speak with Swamy and to convince him to get admitted to a hospital. “Since he is a priest, he feels ‘forgive them, for they do not know what that do’… This is the approach he has taken,” Desai said. The bench granted him the liberty to approach the HC again if Swamy changed his mind about hospital admission. The bench said, “Someone must have told him, or he himself is an intelligent man. He knows his problems are only age-related. That’s why he is pressing only for interim bail and says won’t take hospital admission.”
The HC directed the Taloja prison to follow all the recommendations made by J J Hospital on providing health facilities and treatment to Stan Swamy while in prison. Swamy approached the HC through advocate Desai earlier this year challenging a special court’s rejection of his bail plea, filed on medical grounds as well as merits of the case.
As per his counsel, Stan Swamy suffers from Parkinson’s disease and several other ailments.