Father Stan Swamy, a tribal rights activist and a Jesuit priest passed away at 84 on 5 July. The cause of his death has been reported as cardiac arrest. Stan Swamy, Elgar Parishad Case accused, was admitted to a private hospital in Bandra on 4 July following complications in health.
On July 4, a notice was issued by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to the Maharashtra Uddhav Thackray-led government.
The notice mentioned the health challenges faced by the activist and urged the government to ensure proper medical facilities and treatment should be provided to Swamy. The NHRC has asked the Maharashtra government to provide “every possible medical treatment” to Swamy.
Fr Joseph Xavier, his close associate, told The Hindu. On Sunday morning, his heart rate started falling, he was subsequently put on a ventilator. The hospital administered CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to revive his heartbeat twice. He also stated, Swamy was unconscious with his eyes open.
Mary Lawlor, United Nations special rapporteur on human rights defender, tweeted the news despondently and hoped for treatment of the activist, making an appeal to the government for adequate medical treatment.
In the past, Swamy and co-accused in the Elgar Parishad Case have complained of inadequate healthcare facilities in the Navi Mumbai Taloja prison. The activist had filed pleas in oral and written format, submitting them to the High Court, raising concerns over the negligence in Covid-19 tests, hygiene, and social distancing in the jail.
In the notice issued by the NHRC to the Maharashtra government, the commission has asked for a track record of the treatment of the activist. The report has been asked for submission within four weeks.
Stan Swamy had contracted the Covid-19 virus in detention and was transferred to an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in a private hospital last month. He also suffers from Parkinson’s disease, bilateral hearing loss, and back pain.
Swamy had video-conferenced the vacation bench of the high court in May, stating his health condition is in decline in the prison. He urged the court to release him on interim bail due to his ill health.
Due to the decline in his health, it was reported that Swamy had trouble performing day-to-day activities. He had an advanced stage of Parkinson’s Disease.
Subsequently, he was moved to the Holy Family hospital in Bandra. His colleagues confirmed the news that he has been in and out of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) since June. Days before his diagnosis of the Covid-19 virus, Swamy complained of fever and weakness. He was then moved to a private hospital in Bandra, Mumbai.
Swamy had complained that the jail staff, including the kitchen staffers, had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, along with the prisoners, who were undergoing trial. However, he claimed that RT-PCR tests were not conducted, leading to the spread of the infection in the prison.
His advocate Mihir Desai informed the bench of Justices S S Shinde and N J Jamadar that the activist’s health continues to be critical and has been put on ventilator support. The bench adjourned the hearing on the activist medical plea to Tuesday and has also extended his stay at the hospital.
Stan Swamy had filed a plea in the High Court last week challenging section 43(D) of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The section imposes stringent bars on the grounds of bail of ill-health under the UAPA Act.
The bail application submitted by his lawyer stated that the UAPA law violates the fundamental rights provided by the constitution under Articles 14, 19, and 21. The next scheduled hearing of the case will be held on July 6, 2021.
Swamy has been charged by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under the allegations of working with the banned Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M).