Collective interest of community outweighs right of personal liberty of Stan Swamy: Special NIA Court while rejecting bail to Swamy

24th Mar,2021


Collective interest of community outweighs right of personal liberty of Stan Swamy: Special NIA Court while rejecting bail to Swamy

Stan Swamy (83), who was arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, was denied bail because his right to personal liberty, as well as other factors such as his age and illness, were outweighed by the "collective interest of the society," according to a special court. Special Judge Dinesh E Kothalikar ruled that there is ample prima facie evidence that Swamy, a Jesuit priest and tribal rights activist from Jharkhand, is a member of the banned CPI (Maoist). The court said, "The information put on record... prima facie denotes that the claimant (Swamy) was not only a member of the banned organisation CPI (Maoist), but he was also carrying out activities furthering the organization's purpose, which is nothing but to overthrow the nation's democracy."

FACTS OF THE CASE:
In Jharkhand, Father Stan Swamy is a Jesuit priest and a tribal rights activist. He has worked in the state for more than three decades on adivasi issues such as property, forest, and labour rights. This includes raising concerns about the Constitution's Fifth Schedule, which called for the establishment of a Tribes Advisory Council comprised solely of representatives of the adivasi community for their security, well-being, and growth in the state. the NIA took him into custody, Swamy said that he had challenged the “indiscriminate” arrest of thousands of young adivasis and moolvasis with investigating agencies labeling them as “Naxals”. Swamy had filed a public interest petition against the state in the High Court, demanding that all such undertrial prisoners be released on a personal bond and that a speedy trial be conducted. He had also requested the formation of a judicial commission to look into the reasons for the trial's delays.

OBSERVATION OF THE COURT:
Swamy had claimed in his bail application that the investigating officer had "deviated" from the standard method of calculating the hash value of confiscated electronic devices in order to "fabricate evidence." It was argued that the hash value, which uniquely identifies data, is required to rule out tampering or proof injection to falsely implicate a defendant. The NIA claims Swamy was promoting the CPI (Maoistactivities)'s through his "deep-rooted connection" with other organisations such as the Majdoor Sanghatan Samiti and the Persecuted Prisoners Solidarity Committee (PPSC), referring to them as "frontal organisations" to the banned party. The court said, "Considering this aspect and the tenor of the speeches given by the speakers, one can understand the speech given by other persons even if it is not in the same language that those persons are familiar with."