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Delhi HC rejects ex-PFI chief’s plea to be shifted from jail to house arrest

NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Wednesday refused to release former Popular Front of India (PFI) chairman E Abubacker from jail and place him under house arrest on account of his medical condition, noting that he himself had claimed that he cannot be treated at home.

Abubacker, who was arrested in September this year by the agency, had sought bail on medical grounds. He challenged the trial court’s order which denied him bail saying that he should be treated in AIIMS as per requirement.

In his plea, Abubacker said that he is suffering from multiple ailments including a rare type of oesophagus cancer, Parkinson’s disease, hypertension, diabetes and loss of vision.

Appearing for him, advocate Adit S Pujari contended that Abubacker was 70 years old and in great pain. He said that the tests of his client are being delayed as he sought either immediate release or house arrest.

However, rejecting his request, a bench of justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh said this is not a regular bail application and it cannot release the accused at this stage.

“Your application is only for interim bail on medical grounds…It is not on merits,” the court observed while suggesting that the accused can file regular bail on merits.

The court asked the National Investigation Agency (NIA) to submit a report on the accused’s medical condition and detail the medical opinion of the doctors at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on the treatment needed by the accused.

Objecting to this, advocate Pujari said that his client has cancer and he also forgets to take medicines every four hours due to Parkinson’s disease. He further said that a trimurti (trio) of doctors at AIIMS was not required to make an assessment since the accused was in poor medical condition.

But the objection did not go down well with the court. “Do you want us to get him treated? Say yes or no….Suggest the name of a hospital which is better than AIIMS. Can you get an appointment in AIIMS on your own? We will see how he is to be treated…Leave it to us,” justice Talwant Singh remarked.

As the counsel pressed for treatment in “house arrest”, justice Mridul remarked, “House arrest…he can’t be treated at home. That’s your case”.

When advocate Pujari cited the case of Gautam Navlakha and said that he was taken for a medical every day during his house arrest, the court said, “We don’t know about Gautam Navlakha…If you are seeking expeditious examination, consultation, treatment for Abubacker… That’s a different matter. If you, for a moment believe that without addressing us on the merits, we are going to grant you regular bail, then we are not. This is not an appeal which is directed against the application of regular bail”.

To a question by the court on the scheduled date for conducting the brain MRI, the court remarked, “Surely he can’t wait for a scan till 2024. It is completely unacceptable. He is incarcerated for an offence that is a different matter but doesn’t mean we will wait till 2024”.

The matter will be heard on December 13.

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