The PUCL is monitoring with extreme concern the precarious health condition of Atiq Ur Rehman who was unjustly accused and arrested by the UP police in early October, 2020 for daring to go with journalist Siddique Kappan to Hathras (UP) to report on the rape incident of a 19-year old Dalit woman. Atiq, Kappan and 2 others were charged under the draconian UAPA Act amongst other offences, which makes obtaining bail virtually impossible.
Atiq Ur Rehman has a serious cardiac condition and suffers from `severe Aortic Regurgitation’. His health deteriorated in prison with the prison authorities remaining unbothered about his condition. It soon became clear that unless urgent medical care was provided there was threat to his life itself. Under these circumstances a petition was filed before the Allahabad High Court by Atiq Ur Rehman’s father-in-law seeking his admission to AIIMS, New Delhi, and in the alternative, enlargement on bail on account of the extreme medical emergency.
The PUCL welcomes the order of the Allahabad High Court dated 23.11.2021 allowing Rehman to seek treatment in AIIMS, New Delhi for surgical intervention and is hopeful that the constitutional rights of health, dignity and life of Atiq Ur Rehman continues to be protected by Hon’ble High Court.
Judicial monitoring is vital in the context of the indifference of the state and jail authorities to the health of Atiq Ur Rehman. This was judicially noted in the order of the Allahabad High Court comprising the division bench of Justice Mahesh Chandra Tripathi and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi delivered on 23.11.21 which noted that ‘adequate medical facility has not been provided to the first petitioner’ in spite of ‘repeated orders dated 23.09.2021 and 12.10.2021 passed by Sessions Judge/Special Court, PMLA, Lucknow’.
The PUCL is hopeful that continued judicial monitoring of the health of Atiq Ur Rehman will avoid tragedies like what happened to Fr. Stan Swamy (who died on 5th July, 2021 in a Bombay hospital while still in judicial custody without bail). This is vital in the context of the treatment of Atiq Ur Rehman by the UP State. The State and Jail Authorities have been blithely unconcerned about their constitutional responsibilities by ignoring his fatal ailment, keeping him devoid of the proper medical care, treatment and facilities, and showing a barbaric and criminal indifference to his health.
The PUCL is also cognizant that continued detention is incompatible with the right to life and the right to health of Atiq Ur Rehman. As the Bombay High Court observed in `Varavara Rao v NIA’:
“We are of the opinion that the old age, sickness, infirmity and health conditions, as also the admitted sufferings faced by the undertrial during incarceration including infection of Covid-19 virus, lead to a conclusion that upon his discharge from the Nanavati Hospital, placing the undertrial back in custody would be incompatible with his health conditions and it would endanger his life”.
The PUCL urges that the court continue to play a role in ensuring that Atiq-ur-Rehman’s right to health and his right to life be protected taking into account established Supreme Court precedent which is clear that detention does not mean that a person loses his right to life.
The case was argued by Mr. Farman Naqvi, Sr. Advocate and State Convenor, UP PUCL.
Ravi Kiran Jain, President
Dr. V. Suresh, General Secretary
PEOPLE”S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES