Father Stan Has a Right to Clear His Name: Jesuits Tell Bombay High Court

Father Stan Swamy, who was 84 years old and was involved in tribal rights and civil liberties movements in Jharkhand. He was arrested in the Bhima Koregaon case.

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Image Source: NDTV

The Jamshedpur Jesuit Province and the kin of Father Stan Swamy, a beloved Tribal rights activist who passed away in July in judicial custody as a UAPA undertrial has urged the Bombay High Court to clear the ‘odium’ or the hatred and stigma attached to his name caused by his arrest in relation to the Bhim Koregaon case, Live Law reported.

“Article 21 (Right to dignity) of the Constitution equally applies to deceased persons and just as the Appellant(Father Swamy) would have had a right similarly those closest to him would have a similar right to clear his name,” Advocate Mihir Desai who represented Fr. Stan in the case said on behalf of the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, which is seeking to pursue his case as his next of kin.

Father Stan Swamy, who was over eighty-year-old and involved in tribal rights and civil liberties movements based out of Jharkhand was arrested in October last year by the National Investigation Agency (NIA) under anti-terror charges in the Bhima Koregaon case. The agency without presenting any substantial proof accused him of being a banned CPI(Maoist) member and part of a conspiracy to overthrow the far-right Modi government.

Apart from him 15 other well-known activists, human rights lawyers, artists, and writers have been arrested by the agency, some of whom have spent more than two years in jail as UAPA undertrials without bails. Interestingly, years have passed by the agency that has not initiated the trial of any of the accused.

Advocate Desai assisted by Advocate Mihir Joshi has submitted a note to the Bombay High Court in his bail petitions which were rejected by the Court following submission made by the NIA which said that the accusations against Fr. Stan prima facie appeared to be true.

The Counsel said that the Court can set aside the submission and the rejection of the bail so as to clear the stigma attached to his name.

Furthermore, Desai has also filed a note requesting certain directions in relation to the mandatory judicial inquiry under section 176 (1-A) of the CrPC into Fr. Stan’s death.

One of the directions, the note seeks is to allow St Xaviers College’s ex-principal, Father Frazer Mascarenhas who is delegated to be Swamy’s next of kin by the Jamshedpur Jesuit Province, to participate in the inquiry.

Also read: Imagining Justice for Father Stan Swamy

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May 2024
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