Delhi HC tells NIA to respond to jailed PFI leader's plea for medical aid

The petitioner Abubacker, who is suffering from cancer and Parkinson's disease, is 70 years old and in “great pain” that needs urgent medical supervision, his counsel argued in court.
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court
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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday, November 30, sought the National Investigation Agency (NIA)’s stand on a plea for the medical treatment of former Popular Front of India (PFI) chairman E Abubacker, who was arrested by the agency during a crackdown on the banned organisation. A bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul, which was hearing Abubacker's appeal against a trial court order refusing to release him on medical grounds, asked the investigating agency to file a status report and also state the opinion of a specialist authorised by the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

While asserting that requisite medical treatment would be provided to the accused, the court rejected his submission that he should be sent to house arrest. “We are not inclined to do that. AIIMS is a premier hospital in the country. If you are using this as a pretext for house arrest, we are not granting that. We are only concerned with his medical condition,” said the bench, which also comprised Justice Talwant Singh.

Appearing for the petitioner, advocate Adit Pujari contended that Abubacker, who was suffering from cancer and Parkinson's disease, was 70 years old and in “great pain” which needed urgent medical supervision, but the trial court rejected his plea. He said that as per records, the accused has been given a far-off date for undergoing a test at AIIMS, but the matter required urgency.

Expressing its displeasure at the date, the court remarked, “Where is the diagnosis and treatment? He can't wait for a scan till 2024. (Because he is incarnated), it doesn't mean that he will wait till 2024. It is an examination. It surely can't wait till 2024.”

Special public prosecutor Akshai Malik, representing the NIA, said the agency was not opposing medical treatment to the accused and that the investigation in the case was ongoing. In response, the court said, “The point is that [the accused] is seriously unwell. Eventually we will have to consider whether AIIMS has to be directed to constitute a medical board and let this court know which is the best way possible.”

Advocate Pujari also told the court that the petitioner was arrested in September for an FIR registered in April, and that there was no basis to arrest him at that stage. The court, however, clarified that it was not considering the merits of the case as well as any prayer for granting regular bail to the accused at this stage. It said it “was going to hear the appeal for medical treatment” and that the accused could approach the trial court to seek regular bail. The case has been listed for further consideration on December 14.

A large number of alleged PFI activists were detained or arrested in several states during the massive raids preceding the nationwide ban imposed on the organisation on September 28. In near-simultaneous raids across the country as part of a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA, a large number of PFI activists were detained or arrested in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country. The arrests were made in Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Delhi, and Rajasthan.

The government banned the PFI and several of its associate organisations on September 28 for five years under the stringent anti-terror law Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), accusing them of having ‘links’ with global terror groups like the ISIS.

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