Supreme Court Allows Asaram Bapu To Apply Before Rajasthan HC For His Treatment At Ayurvedic Hospital; Expedites His Pending Appeal 

Godman Asaram Bapu had approached the Apex Court under Article 136 of the Constitution, through Advocates Rajesh Inamdar and Shashwat Anand, in an extreme and fatal medical emergency and rapidly deteriorating health condition, assailing the order dt. 11.01.2024 passed by the High Court of Rajasthan at Jodhpur, dismissing his Suspension of Sentence (SoS) Application, which was filed on medical grounds and also on the ground that he is innocent and has already undergone more than 11 years in imprisonment. 

Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Devadatt Kamat, submitted that the petitioner has suffered a series of heart attacks and his coronary angiography report dt. 14.01.2024 also shows fatal arterial blockages of up to 99%. 

The bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta on 1st March, 2024, while expression disinclination to hear the SLP seeking SoS, allowed Asaram Bapu to apply before the Rajasthan HC for his treatment at an Ayurvedic Hospital. It also directed that the hearing of his appeal pending before the Rajasthan HC be decided expeditiously.

The SLP also stated that as per the earlier discharge report issued on 06.02.2024 by AIIMS, Jodhpur, the medical board consisting of 7 senior doctors have indicated that he needs Coronary Artery Bypass Graft (CABG) and before that, he needs Enteroscopy for evaluating small bowel movements and has also indicated the said facility is not available in Jodhpur.

It was further provided that the Petitioner who is an octogenarian and is undergoing sentence of life imprisonment in Sessions Case No 116 /2016 has in span of four months (November, 2023 to February, 2024) has been rushed to hospital on three different occasions. The petitioner has been knocking the doors of the Hon’ble High Court seeking SoS /interim SoS, on medical grounds inter alia to seek treatment from a hospital of his choice which prayer has been rejected by the Hon’ble High Court vide the impugned order dt. 11.01.2024, observing that the same may creat a law-and-order situation, without considering that there is a serious threat to his life due to extreme medical emergency and the steady degradation of his health with every passing moment in imprisonment.

“The petitioner who is in the twilight of his life, aged more than 85 years, is apprehending that he may die in jail if he is not allowed to take treatment from a hospital/ doctor of his choice which is fundamental right granted to every person regardless of the fact whether he is a convict or an undertrial. The petitioner has spent more than eleven (11) years under the agony of imprisonment, for an offence he did not commit and the Appeal against the conviction is pending consideration before the Hon’ble High Court,” the plea stated.

The SLP further provided that the case has put him in a lethal life-and-death situation, where his internment in prison is worsening his condition with every passing moment and can result in his terrible and painful demise. The petitioner fears that he may be consigned to the same fate suffered by Stan Swamy who died in prison while his matter was pending for hearing.

The law is well-settled on this point that the mere slapping of stringent or draconian provisions upon a person, whether an undertrial or even a convict, does not oust his fundamental rights guaranteed under Part III of the. Constitution, muchless, the Right to Life and Human Dignity and the Right to Proper Medical Care and Treatment, which toughen the very core of Article 14, 19, 20 and 21 of the Constitution.

The plea submited that under the circumstances, the petitioner has no one to pray to but God and the Hon’ble Court alone, who, if does not come to his aid immediately, to save his life, it might be too late, and he would be resigned to the harshest penalty of all, known to mankind, i.e., the Death Penalty, Pending Appeal.

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It is also stated that the petitioner has not been granted relief for even a single day and his prayer for even a grant of parole has been rejected by the Hon’ble High Court inter alia because the grant of parole also will be a futile exercise. The petitioner who is in advanced age and precarious health renders him especially vulnerable to the rigors of imprisonment, jeopardizing his well-being and constitutionally protected right to be free from cruel and unusual punishment. 

Thus, it was prayed in light of the medical complexities and the petitioner’s age, that a suspension of the sentence is imperative to safeguard not only his health but also to prevent the imposition of a punishment that could be tantamount to a death sentence.

The SLP was however dismissed while granting the aforesaid liberty to approach the Rajasthan High Court at Jodhpur.

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