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No, the death of Stan Swamy is not “judicial murder”. Here is the truth

Multiple media reports and so-called activists have claimed that terror accused Stan Swamy's death at hospital due to medical complications is 'judicial murder'. Here is a lowdown of the facts

A number of false and misleading claims have been doing the rounds ever since Stan Swamy, an 84 year old terror accused, passed away at a hospital in Mumbai on July 5, after recently suffering from Covid. Unfortunately, such claims have been circulated widely on social media, TV channels and newspapers. Here is a fact-check.

Claim: Stan Swamy’s death is a case of judicial murder

Fact check: False

On hearing this claim, I reached out to various experts to find out the legal definition of the term “judicial murder.” It turns out that “judicial murder” is not defined in any existing Indian law or statute. In fact, the term does not appear anywhere in the Indian Constitution, a copy of which may be downloaded here from the website of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice. The term also does not appear anywhere in the Indian Penal Code, nor in the Code of Criminal Procedure.

ClaimStan Swamy was an activist

Fact checkMisleading

The online Webster dictionary defines “activist” as a person who uses or supports strong actions (such as public protests) in support of or opposition to one side of a controversial issue. While it may be argued that Stan Swamy’s life did include such activities, this is a subjective judgement and incidental to the matter at hand. The individual in question had been arrested on charges of terrorism, under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act or the UAPA. The latter pertain to threats to the sovereignty and integrity of India, as well as efforts for a violent overthrow of the Indian state.

ClaimModi government kept Stan Swamy in an overcrowded prison

Fact checkFalse

Stan Swamy had been lodged in Taloja jail near Mumbai in Maharashtra. The Taloja jail is administered by the Department of Prisons of the State of Maharashtra. My fact check revealed that the state of Maharashtra is currently ruled by a multi-party coalition that does not include the BJP. Hence, whatever the conditions in Taloja jail, it is false to say that Modi govt or any other BJP government kept him in an overcrowded prison.

ClaimJudicial system and criminal justice system were slow to take up Stan Swamy’s appeals

Fact checkMisleading

Even a cursory glance at news reports will prove that since his arrest in October 2020, Stan Swamy’s appeals have been considered in multiple courts and various levels. On Oct 23, 2020, his bail application was rejected by the special NIA court. Subsequently, on Nov 26, 2020 and on Dec 4, 2020, the special NIA court discussed the matter of his personal needs, such as a straw, sipper and warm winter clothes. This shows that his situation was constantly under consideration by the judiciary. Further, in May 2021, his case was again presented before a vacation bench of the Bombay High Court. In fact, at the time of his demise, his case was actively being heard in the High Court.

While fast or slow are subjective terms, such level of judicial scrutiny is a rare privilege for prisoners under trial in India. Approximately 70 percent of India’s jail population is currently made up of under-trial prisoners and roughly 1.6 crore criminal cases are pending in India. As such, the due process received by Stan Swamy appears to be very much above average.

ClaimBringing Stan Swamy from Ranchi to Mumbai ignored his medical needs

Fact checkFalse

Mumbai is a major metropolis, with a medical infrastructure vastly superior to Ranchi. In fact, Mumbai is a global destination for medical tourism. Around 27 percent of medical tourists arriving in India go to Maharashtra, with nearly 80 percent of those headed to Mumbai. In contrast, the situation in Jharkhand is dire, with only 291 functioning Public Health Centers and just 2,800 doctors employed by the state government for a population of 3 crore people.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee
Abhishek Banerjee is a columnist and author.  

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