Jesuit priest and activist Stan Swamy, who passed away on Monday, was an accused in the Elgar Parishad-Maoists links case and got arrested in October 2020.
The 84-year-old Jesuit priest had been in jail ever since being charged under the stringent anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). He suffered from the Parkinson’s disease and needed help with his daily chores.
Here’s a timeline of the activist’s imprisonment, to his death:
Case Registered in Pune in 2018 for Speeches During Elgar Parishad: A case had been registered against the activist on 8 January, 2018, in Pune regarding “inciting people and giving provocative speeches during Elgar Parishad organised by activists of Kabir Kala Manch on 31 December, 2017".
The Elgar Parishad case is related to inflammatory speeches made at a conclave held in Pune on December 31, 2017, which, the police claimed, triggered violence the next day near the Koregaon-Bhima war memorial located on the outskirts of the western Maharashtra city. The police had claimed the conclave was organised by people with alleged Maoist links.
Alleged Maoist Links: According to the investigation conducted, senior leaders of CPI (Maoist) were in contact with organizers of Elgar Parishad to “spread the ideology of Maoism/Naxalism and encourage unlawful activities".
Case Transferred to NIA: The case was later transferred to NIA for investigation on the basis of Ministry of Home Affair’s order. The role of Stan Swamy emerged in the said case regarding his being a member of CPI (Maoist) and actively involved in furthering its activities, authorities alleged. According to the investigation, “he was found to be in communication with CPI (Maoist) cadre, and also convener of Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC)-a frontal organization of CPI (Maoist)".
Arrest by NIA: On the basis of his role in the case, Stan Swamy was arrested on 8 October, 2020 by the NIA. Necessary medical formalities after his arrest were conducted in the period from his arrest to production before the Ld Special Court. In the background of his age, no police custody was obtained by NIA during investigation as sufficient evidences were already on record.
Stan Swamy was examined by the medical practitioner and accordingly his health condition was certified to be stable as per section 54 of the CrPC.
Chargesheet Under UAPA: Father Stan Swamy was produced before the Special Court NIA Mumbai on 9 October, 2020 and supplementary charge sheet was filed against him in the said case under Sections 13,16,18,20,38 and 39 of the UAPA before NIA Special Court, along with others. The Ld Court sent him on judicial custody to Central Jail, Taloja in Mumbai.
Judicial Custody: During his judicial custody, Fr. Stan Swamy was kept in seperate cell of prison hospital with all necessary precautions. He was provided with all facilities, including wheel chair and walking stick.
Bail Applications Rejected: In between, Father Stan Swamy filed for bail applications before the Bombay High Court, which were rejected.
The Jesuits — a Roman Catholic order had in December launched a protest after Swamy was denied bail. Former principal of Mumbai’s St. Xavier’s College in Mumbai, Father Fraser Mascarenhas, had urged the authorities to continue the trial but release Swami- also a Jesuit – on bail.
In January, he was named the recipient of the Mukundan C. Menon Award for 2020.
Shift to Holy Family Hospital: On 21 May, Stan Swamy had filed a criminal appeal before Bombay HC, regarding which Maharashtra had filed medical report of Board of Doctors constituted by JJ Hospital. He was advised by court to be treated in JJ Hospital; however, he refused to get admitted in JJ Hospital.
Subsequently, Bombay HC allowed Stan Swamy, to be shifted and treated in Holy Family Hospital, Bandra alongwith one attendant as per the protocol, on 28, May 2021. The activist tested positive for Covid, as well. The State of Maharashtra was directed to provide protection during the treatment.
Fr Stan Swamy remained admitted in hospital since for treatment in respect of ailments.
Challenged Provisions of UAPA in Bombay HC: Swami had challenged in the Bombay High Court a provision of the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) dealing with grant of bail, contending it has created an “insurmountable hurdle" for those seeking relief. Swamy said section 43D(5) of the UAPA was violative of the accused person’s fundamental right to life and liberty as guaranteed by the Constitution.
His plea stated that presumption of innocence is a fundamental tenet of criminal jurisprudence and when a harsh condition, such as that mentioned above is imposed on grant of bail, even before the trial is conducted, the same “inverts on its head, the principle of presumption of innocence." Desai said the plea also stated that the provision under the UAPA to brand certain organisations as a front for banned or terrorist organisations was bad in law. The UAPA provides for the declaration of an association as unlawful and for the listing of organisations in the first schedule of the Act as terrorist organisations.
Health Deteriorates: Swamy’s lawyers had moved the Bombay High Court on Monday morning, seeking an urgent hearing on his medical bail plea after the octogenarian’s health condition deteriorated on Sunday and he was put on ventilator support.
He was in the Intensive Care Unit of the Holy Family hospital and was put on a ventilator on Sunday after he had difficulty breathing and his oxygen levels were fluctuating, his lawyer Mihir Desai said.
NHRC Notice: In the notice sent through the state’s chief secretary, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had called upon him to ensure that every possible efforts are made in providing Swamy proper medical care and treatment as part of life-saving measure and protection of his basic human rights.
Earlier, the NHRC had received a complaint on May 16 that Swamy was being denied medical facility during the COVID-19 period, the rights panel said. It was also alleged in the complaint that he had not been vaccinated yet and that there was no proper medical care in the jail hospital, it said.
Death: Post-midnight, Desai said Sunday, Swamy’s health condition deteriorated. This, he added, could have been a result of long-term post-Covid complications. He passed away on Monday, his counsel informed the Bombay High Court when the court took up his bail plea.