Mumbai: Following the posthumous hearing of the appeals filed by late Jesuit priest Stan Swamy, in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case, the Bombay High Court said that the tribal rights activist was a ‘wonderful person’ and the court has ‘great respect’ for his work.
The observations were made by a bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar, who had also ruled over Swamy’s medical bail application on July 5, when the HC was told of the 84-year-old priest’s death at the Holy Family Hospital in Mumbai that day due to cardiac arrest.
Swamy, who was detained on October 8 in the Bhima Koregaon-Elgaar Parishad case, died on July 5 at the Holy Family Hospital, where he was sent on the orders of the Bombay High Court in May as his health began to deteriorate.
Even while the bench expressed admiration for Swamy’s work, it also stated that ‘whatever is there against him is a different matter legally.’
The panel also mentioned the criticism levelled at the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the judiciary after Swamy’s demise and also expressed sorrow at how, in many cases, undertrials lingered in jail while awaiting the start of their trials. The bench, on the other hand, said that it had acted fairly in ruling on Swamy’s medical bail request as well as the pleas submitted by his co-accused in the Elgaar Parishad case.
‘You came to us with his medical bail plea on May 28 and we acceded to every prayer, every time,’ the court said to Swamy’s advocate, senior counsel Mihir Desai.
‘Outside, we are speechless. Only you (Desai) can clarify this. You have said it on record that you have no grievance with this court in the matter,’ the high court added.
The bench, referring to the late activist’s ongoing medical bail application, stated that the court never expected Stan Swamy’s death in custody, ‘What was on our minds, we can’t say now as we couldn’t pronounce our order.’
The HC also said nobody notes that this is the court that granted bail to (co-accused) Varavara Rao despite vociferous resistance. ‘We allowed (Rao’s) family to meet as we thought human angle has to be seen. In another case (Hany Babu), we sent to the hospital of his choice (Breach Candy Hospital-a private medical facility),’ the HC said.