The Delhi High Court on Friday listed for hearing on January 12 a plea by E Abubacker, the jailed former chairman of the banned Popular Front of India, for release on medical grounds while observing the case against him is under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA which does not pertain to trivial offences.

A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh observed that when the grievance of the petitioner was with respect to receiving medical treatment on account of his ill health, he has to be sent to a hospital instead of home.

"You are asking for medical treatment. You can't be sent home. So you want to go to Kerala. Why not AIIMS?... We are committed to ensure that you receive the best medical treatment," the court said.

In his plea, Abubacker has challenged a trial court order refusing to release him on medical grounds.

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

The counsel for the petitioner said Abubacker's condition was serious and "only treatment would not suffice" and "post-treatment care is required", and urged the court to grant him interim bail for six months.

The court was earlier informed that the 70-year-old had cancer, suffered from Parkinson's disease and was in "great pain" which needed urgent medical attention.

The court queried if the bar on grant of bail under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), unless there is no prima facie case, is not applicable to instances when an accused is seeking release on medical grounds, and if the petitioner can be released without taking the case diary and other relevant material into consideration.

"You can come prepared but you have to answer our queries because these are not trivial offences. These are offences under the UAPA. They have charged you with conspiracy. You will have to take us through the charge sheet... daily diary and look at the investigation," the court remarked.

The petitioner's lawyer referred to the grant of interim bail to the accused in other UAPA cases, including the Bhima Koregaon case, and said bail can be granted to the sick and infirm.

The counsel for NIA said the investigation in the case was underway and the petitioner has even been allowed a "sevadar" (assistant) in jail by the trial court, and the proceedings before the high court are "parallel" in nature.

The NIA had earlier told the court that Abubacker is "absolutely fine" and receiving the required treatment. The anti-terror probe agency has said it was not opposed to medical treatment for the accused.

Last month, the court refused to place Abubacker under house arrest and said he would be admitted to a hospital for treatment if required.

It had remarked there was no provision in law for "house arrest" and directed that Abubacker be "escorted safely" to AIIMS in custody for an oncosurgery review. The court had also permitted his son to remain present at the time of consultation.

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, 2022.

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

With PTI Inputs