Father Stan Swamy has consistently denied any connections to Maoist rebels. (Photo: UCA News)
A special court in India has further extended the judicial custody of an elderly Jesuit priest facing sedition charges.The court of th National Investigation Agency (NIA) based in Mumbai, the capital of Maharashtra state in western India, extended the judicial custody of Father Stan Swamy, an 84-year-old social activist, for another 21 days to Nov. 26 when the case will be heard again. The same court on Oct. 23 had directed the priest's personal appearance in the court. However, officials did not produce him reportedly on account of his advanced age and the Covid-19 threat.Officials of the NIA, a federal anti-terror combat unit, arrested Father Swamy on Oct. 8 from his residence on the outskirts of Ranchi, Jharkhand's capital in eastern India.He is accused of sedition and having links with an outlawed Maoist group.
The priest's lawyers on Oct. 23 pleaded for an interim order based on his advanced age and health-related problems, but the court turned down the request and extended judicial custody."Since the priest is charged under the stringent Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), even his phone calls are limited," said Jesuit Father A. Santhanam, a lawyer who is monitoring the case. "He is allowed to make phone calls only once a fortnight."
However, Father Swamy can write and receive letters under thorough scrutiny, Father Santhanam told UCA News on Nov. 7.