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HC dismisses plea for house arrest of jailed PFI leader, says will send him to hospital

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NEW DELHI, Dec 19 (PTI): The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to send E Abubacker, jailed former chairman of the Popular Front of India, to house arrest and said he will be admitted to a hospital for treatment.

“When you are asking for medical bail, why should we send you to your house? We will send you to a hospital,” observed a bench comprising Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh.

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The observations were made by the high court bench while hearing a plea of Abubacker against a trial court order refusing to release him on medical grounds.

Last month, Abubacker’s counsel had said that the 70-year-old had cancer and Parkinson’s disease and was in “great pain”, which needed urgent medical supervision.

Abubacker was arrested by the agency during a massive crackdown on the banned organisation earlier this year and is presently in judicial custody.

The bench on Monday remarked that there was no provision in law for a “house arrest” and directed that Abubacker be “escorted safely” to the All India Institute Of Medical Science (AIIMS) in custody for an oncosurgery review on December 22 and also permitted his son to remain present at the time of consultation.

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“We are not granting you house arrest. There is no provision in law for house arrest. The honourable Supreme Court has powers which this court does not,” the court said.

“We don’t see anything appropriate in this because no surgery has been recommended. We can’t grant you house arrest, first of all. If your medical condition requires hospitalisation, we can direct hospitalisation. We may permit an attendant. We are not permitting anything else,” added the court.

“He is entitled to medical treatment that we will provide,” the court said.

The court listed the case for further consideration in January next year and directed the jail medical superintendent to file a report on the consultation with the oncosurgery department of AIIMS .

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Lawyer Adit Pujari, appearing for Abubacker, argued that he needed constant monitoring and treatment and even if he is sent to house arrest, there would be no “qualitative difference” for the investigating agency.

Special public prosecutor Akshai Malik, appearing for the National Investigation Agency (NIA), stated that the accused was being provided “best possible treatment” and he was due to meet an oncologist on December 22.

Last week, he had said that Abubacker was “absolutely fine” and receiving treatment.

Last month, the court had asserted that requisite medical treatment will be provided to the accused while rejecting the submission that he should be sent to house arrest.

“We are not inclined to do that. AIIMS is a premier hospital in the country. If you are using this as a pretext for house arrest, we are not granting that. We are only concerned with his medical condition,” the court had said.

The court also said that it “was going to hear the appeal for medical treatment” and the accused could approach the trial court for seeking regular bail.

The NIA had said that the agency was not opposing medical treatment to the accused and the investigation in the case was ongoing.

A large number of alleged PFI activists were detained or arrested in several states during the massive raids preceding the nationwide ban imposed on September 28.

In near-simultaneous raids across the country as part of a multi-agency operation spearheaded by the NIA, a large number of PFI activists were detained or arrested in 11 states for allegedly supporting terror activities in the country.

The arrests were made in states and Union Territories, including Kerala, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Puducherry, Delhi and Rajasthan.

The government banned the PFI and several of its associate organisations on September 28 for five years under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA, accusing them of having “links” with global terror groups like the ISIS.

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