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Bombay HC acquits ex-DU professor GN Saibaba, five others in 2014 Maoist link case (Ld)

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Bombay HC acquits ex-DU professor GN Saibaba, five others in 2014 Maoist link case (Ld)

Nagpur (Maharashtra), March 5 (Ajit Weekly News) The Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) on Tuesday acquitted former professor of Delhi University G.N. Saibaba and five others who were awarded life sentences in 2014 Maoists link case.

A division bench of Justice Vinay Joshi and Justice Valmiki S.A. Menezes quashed the 2017 verdict of a Gadchiroli Sessions Court which had earlier convicted the six accused.

The state did not seek a stay on the judgement, delivered on March 5, 2017 which came after the court re-heard the plea by Saibaba after a previous bench of the Bombay High Court had also acquitted the professor in October 2022.

Arrested in 2014, 54-year-old Saibaba, who is mentally fit and alert, remains wheelchair bound and currently is lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail.

After the arrest along with the other accused — Mahesh Tirki, Vijaynan Tirki, Hem Kesawdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi, and Pandu Pora Narote (who died in August 2022) — he was charged with having links with Maoist organisations active in the region, and conspiring to wage a war against the country.

The judges have on Tuesday directed the accused to be released from the jail after depositing Rs 50,000 each as bail bond till the Supreme Court decides the state’s plea against the verdict, if it is challenged.

The current re-hearing of the case took place after the Supreme Court set aside the October 2022 acquittal order and remanded the matter for a fresh hearing back to the Bombay High Court.

In the trial before the Gadchiroli Sessions Court, the state of Maharashtra contended that he and others were working for the banned CPI (Maoist) group and its frontal organisations like Revolutionary Democratic Front.

The police had seized evidence like Maoist literature, pamphlets, electronic materials and other things deemed to be ‘anti-national’ from Saibaba.

He had also handed over a 16GB memory card purportedly intended for the Maoist groups active and hiding in the Abujhmad jungles, sprawled over 4,000 sq. kms on the borders of Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh.

After the conviction by the Gadchiroli Sessions Court Principal Judge Suryakant Shinde to undergo a life sentence in March 2017, Saibaba had challenged the ruling in the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) and a division bench comprising Justice Rohit B. Deo and Justice Anil Pansare, acquitted Saibaba on October 14, 2022.

That appeal was allowed on Saibaba’s contentions that the Sessions Court had framed charges against him in the absence of sanction from the Centre as per the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, Sec. 45(1).

The previous bench had also noted that though terrorism posed an ominous threat to national security and every legitimate weapon in the armoury must be deployed against it, a civic democracy cannot sacrifice procedural safeguards afforded to the accused.

The state government immediately challenged the high court verdict in the apex court where Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Bela M.Trivedi suspended the high court’s judgement on October 15, 2022.

Later in April 2023, another bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice C.T. Ravikumar ordered a fresh hearing in the case by the Bombay High Court, which was completed by Justice Joshi and Justice Menezes, and resulted in the acquittal.

(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at: [email protected])

–Ajit Weekly News

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