GN Saibaba To Remain In Jail As SC Suspends Bombay HC Order To Acquit Him In Maoist Links Case

New Delhi: In a special hearing on Saturday, Supreme Court suspended the Bombay High Court order which acquitted former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba and others in an alleged Maoist links case.

The apex court also stayed the release of former DU professor GN Saibaba and others from jail, news agency ANI reported.

Supreme Court issued notice to the accused in the case on the Maharashtra government’s plea challenging their acquittal. 

After the High Court acquitted Saibaba, the Maharashtra government swiftly moved the apex court seeking a stay on the order which was declined. The top court, however, allowed Maharashtra to move an application before the registry requesting an urgent listing of the matter, news agency PTI reported.

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Bombay High Court Said Sanction Under UAPA Was ‘Bad In Law’

More than eight years after his arrest, the Bombay High Court on Friday acquitted Saibaba and ordered his release from jail, noting that the sanction order issued to prosecute the accused in the case under the stringent provisions of the UAPA was “bad in law and invalid”.

The Nagpur bench of the high court allowed the appeal filed by Saibaba challenging a 2017 order of the trial court convicting and sentencing him to life imprisonment.

The trial court had held Saibaba and the others guilty under various provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC). 

Besides the ex DU professor, the bench also allowed the appeal of five other convicts in the case as it acquitted them. One of the five died pending a hearing of the appeal, PTI reported.

The Nagpur bench noted that in 2014 when the trial court took cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the prosecution, there was no sanction to prosecute Saibaba under the UAPA.

The prosecution had alleged that the convicts were active members of the banned terrorist outfit CPI (Maoist) and its frontal organisation Revolutionary Democratic Front.

The High Court stated that the trial court proceedings were “null and void” in the absence of valid sanction under the UAPA and hence the judgment (of the trial court) was liable to be set aside and quashed.

“While the war against terror must be waged by the State with unwavering resolve, and every legitimate weapon in the armory must be deployed in the fight against terror, a civil democratic society can ill afford sacrificing the procedural safeguards legislatively provided, and which is an integral facet of the due process of law, at the altar of perceived peril to national security,” the judgment said, as quoted by PTI.

The HC directed for the convicts to be released forthwith from jail unless they are accused in any other case.

In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district convicted Saibaba and others, including a journalist and a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student for alleged Maoist links and for indulging in activities amounting to waging war against the country.

The Supreme Court has now the matter for hearing on December 8.

(With Agency Inputs)

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