SC directs AIIMS to examine NewsClick founder’s health to decide his bail plea | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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SC directs AIIMS to examine NewsClick founder’s health to decide his bail plea

ByAbraham Thomas
Feb 27, 2024 07:48 PM IST

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha’s lawyers objected to a medical report submitted by the jail hospital, saying that it had failed to present the true picture about his health

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed a medical board headed by the All India Institute of Medical Science (AIIMS) director to examine NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha, currently in jail under the anti-terror law, and submit a report within two weeks on his medical condition to decide his plea for bail on medical grounds.

NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. (File)
NewsClick founder Prabir Purkayastha. (File)

A bench headed by justice BR Gavai passed the order after Purkayastha’s lawyers objected to a medical report by the jail hospital at Tihar Prisons submitted to the court last week, saying that it had failed to present the true picture about his health.

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“We consider it appropriate that the medical condition of the petitioner be examined by a medical board headed by director, All India Institute of Medical Sciences,” said the bench, also comprising justice Sandeep Mehta.

The court directed the complete medical history of the 73-year-old prisoner to be shared with the committee which will submit its report to the court in two weeks.

Purkayastha was arrested by the Delhi Police on October 3, 2023, on charges of receiving foreign funds through Chinese firms with an aim to compromise the country’s stability and integrity. Purkayastha had approached the top court against dismissal of his regular bail petition by the Delhi high court on October 13.

Seeking bail on medical grounds, senior advocate Kapil Sibal pointed out that the report produced by the jail authorities relies on his medical condition as in October. Since then, he pointed out that the petitioner’s health deteriorated further as he experienced shortness of breath due to lung infection that aggravated early this month. The jail report depicted no serious threat to his health pointing out that the petitioner suffered from hypertension, pulmonary disease and diabetes.

Sibal said, “Let all records be provided to AIIMS. Let there be an independent examination of his medical condition. The report that has come from jail does not confront the real situation faced by him.”

Additional solicitor general (ASG) SV Raju appearing for the police opposed the request. “If he is a specialised guest, let him pay for the medical examination to be done. I am only on principle that all prisoners should be treated fairly.”

The court remarked, “He is in your custody. This argument cannot be raised by you. Or else you release him and let him get treated in the best hospital of his choice.”

Sibal was willing to pay if the state had a problem, but ASG Raju yielded to the court’s suggestion to get a report from AIIMS. The jail hospital report was prepared by the resident medical officer specialising in general medicine along with the medical in-charge of the central jail hospital.

Police had claimed that Purkayastha acted as an extended limb of Chinese espionage. The first information report (FIR) registered by police alleged that Purkayastha conspired with a group called Peoples Alliance for Democracy and Secularism to sabotage the 2019 general elections. Police claimed that the money was routed into the portal by Chinese firms Xiaomi and Vivo with the aid of shell companies.

Police had also arrested Amit Chakraborty, the head of human resources at NewsClick, but early this year he turned an approver supporting the prosecution case. He had since withdrawn his bail plea from the trial court. The Delhi high court had earlier this month reserved orders on his plea for release on bail.

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