Mumbai: The Bombay High Court said that it had "great respect" for the work late Jesuit priest Stan Swamy was doing for the upliftment of people. The court was posthumously hearing the appeals filed by him in link with the Elgar Parishad Maoist case.
Justice Shinde said that he saw the late human rights activist's funeral service and it was "very gracious". "Such a wonderful person. The kind of service he has rendered to the society. We have great respect for his work. Legally, whatever is there against him is a different matter," added the HC justice.
The bench of Justices SS Shinde and N J Jamada had presided over Swamy's pending medical bail plea on July 5. The court emphasised that it remained fair while passing orders on Swamy's medical bail plea and other pleas filed by his co-accused in the case.
The High Court told Swamy's advocate, senior counsel, Mihir Desai, that the court acceded to every prayer, every time in regard to the medical bail plea. "Outside, we are speechless. Only you (Desai) can clarify this. You have said on record that you have no grievance with this court in the matter," said the bench.
The court also addressed the criticism the NIA and the judicial system have been facing following Swamy's demise. The bench expressed regret over how many cases are waiting for the trial to begin. The bench pointed out that they granted bail to the co-accused, Varavara Rao, despite severe opposition.
The HC said that it never anticipated Swamy's death in custody, and added that the bench cannot reveal what was on their minds now that the order cannot be pronounced. He was suffering from Parkinson's disease and several other ailments since the time of the arrest.
Tribal rights activist Stan Swamy was arrested from Ranchi in October 2020 by the NIA.
Advocate SandeshPatil, who appeared for the NIA, said that it is being projected that NIA and jail authorities are responsible for Swamy's custodial death. The court told Patil that there can be no control over who says what outside on the matter. "You take instructions on how many witnesses, how long the trial will take. We have to look at it practically," said the HC to NIA's lawyer.
The court expressed concern over how many years can people be asked to languish in jail without a trial. The bench added that it is a question that will arise in other cases as well.
The HC will continue hearing the pleas on July 23.