The Bombay High Court on Wednesday allowed Delhi University Professor Hany Babu to be moved to Mumbai’s Breach Candy hospital for treatment, reported Live Law. The professor is an undertrial prisoner in the Bhima Koregaon case.
Babu, who was admitted to the city’s GT Hospital, had moved the court asking for medical assistance for an eye infection that he got after contracting Covid-19, reported PTI. Babu’s plea said he was only being treated for Covid and not his eye infection, which could be caused due to mucormycosis, also known as “black fungus”, being reported among coronavirus patients.
Last week, the Delhi University professor contracted Covid-19 along with the eye infection. Wednesday’s plea said that Babu may have developed an infection in his eye after contracting “black fungus”.
“He [Babu] is directed to be transferred to Breach Candy Hospital by tomorrow [Thursday],” the court said, according to Live Law. “The doctors at Breach Candy Hospital after examination of his symptoms can give necessary treatment.”
The court said that the expenses at this hospital would be borne by Babu’s family. “The family of the patient is permitted to communicate with him and the doctors,” the bench said.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Delhi University professor’s lawyer, Yug Chaudhry, had moved a vacation bench comprised of Justices SJ Kathawalla and SP Tavade, appealing for an urgent hearing.
“Hany Babu is suffering from eye infection due to the black fungus,” his counsel said, according to PTI. “For nine days he suffered in jail. At the moment, he is in the GT Hospital. He is being treated only for Covid-19 and not the eye infection. He may lose his eyesight. He is an academician.”
GT Hospital’s Dean Dr BG Chikhalkar, along with other doctors, appeared before the court via video conferencing and told the bench that Babu was being provided adequate treatment, PTI reported. The court then asked for a video call to be arranged with Babu himself. Upon appearing, Babu told the court that he was satisfied with the treatment and his eye was better than earlier.
However, GT Hospital authorities told the court that the facility was not equipped to carry out an MRI angio test and other specialised tests Babu has been recommended.
Babu’s counsel Yug Chaudhry then sought an interim bail on the grounds that he needed specialised tests. The court refused to grant Babu a bail, but said it could allow him to be shifted to a hospital of his choice.
The National Investigation Agency’s counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh, objected to the court’s decision, suggesting it could set a precedent for prisoners wanting to shift to private hospitals. The court, however, refused to accept his submission and insisted that there was no harm in setting a precedent like this in the current situation. The court also pointed out that it was asking Babu to bear the expense for his treatment.
The court directed the Breach Candy Hospital to submit Babu’s medical report in court by June 9, the next date of hearing, or whenever he is discharged from the hospital.
According to Babu’s family, he started experiencing pain and swelling in the left eye on May 3, which soon developed into double vision and severe pain. By May 11, he had little or no vision in his left eye due to the swelling, which has spread to the cheek, ear and forehead, compromising other vital organs as well, they said.
The family said that when the academic first showed signs of the infection, he immediately requested for consultation and treatment with a specialised doctor. But he was not taken to a doctor, because an escort officer was not available, according to the family.
On May 13, Babu’s family said that he was admitted to JJ Hospital a day earlier, after his lawyer Payoshi Roy made multiple calls and sent an email to the Taloja Jail, where he was lodged. The jail officials informed Babu’s wife about him being admitted to the hospital. However, she was not told anything about Babu’s diagnosis or treatment, the family had alleged.
Bhima Koregaon case
Several activists and academicians have been jailed in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. They were accused of making inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad conclave held at Shaniwar Wada in Pune on December 31, 2017, which the authorities claim triggered the violence at Bhima-Koregaon war memorial on the next day. One person was killed and several others were injured in the incident.
The first chargesheet was filed by the Pune Police in November 2018, which ran to over 5,000 pages. It named activists Sudhir Dhawale, Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, all of whom were arrested in June 2018. The police claimed that those arrested had “active links” with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist), and accused the activists of plotting to kill Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
A supplementary chargesheet was filed in February 2019, against human rights activists Sudha Bharadwaj, Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) leader Ganapathy.
The Centre transferred the case to the National Investigation Agency in January 2020 after the Bharatiya Janata Party government in Maharashtra was defeated.
Eight people who have been named in the NIA chargesheet for the January 2018 violence are Hany Babu, former Indian Institute of Technology professor Anand Teltumbde, his brother Milind Teltumbde, Navlakha, three members of the cultural group Kabir Kala Manch and human rights activist Stan Swamy. Milind Teltumbde has been named as an absconding accused and top operative of CPI (Maoist) in the chargesheet.