The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed the Maharashtra government to submit a medical report on the health of Father Stan Swamy, the 84-year-old Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist arrested in the Elgaar Parishad case.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Justice Manish Pitale also directed the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which had arrested Swamy, to respond to his bail applications. The octogenarian, lodged in Taloja Central Jail since last October, has sought bail on medical grounds and merit.

The court was on Tuesday informed by senior advocate Mihir Desai that since Swamy was jailed after his arrest on October 8, 2020, he has been admitted to the jail hospital. He added that Swamy has Parkinson’s disease, which is in an advanced stage, and cannot hear and stand on his own.

Desai further said that with the spread of Covid-19 cases in prisons, his bail plea should be considered and he should at least be released on temporary bail for some time.

Asked how far the trial has progressed against Swamy in the special NIA court, Desai said that while charges have not been framed yet, over 200 witnesses have been listed in the chargesheet filed by the central agency.

He added that Swamy is a priest and has a long history of working with the tribal population in Jharkhand. He further said that he had never been booked for arms recovery or participation in incidents of violence.

When Justice Shinde asked Desai under which sections have Swamy been booked, the advocate said that “virtually everything” in the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act has been invoked against him.

The court said that Swamy’s medical bail plea could be heard first by the vacation bench while the regular bail plea can be taken up in June when the courts reopen. It directed the state home department to submit a medical report on Swamy’s health before May 15.

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