NEW DELHI: Former Delhi University professor S N Saibaba will remain in jail as the Supreme Court on Saturday suspended Friday’s Bombay High Court order acquitting the wheelchair-bound scholar-activist and others in a Maoist-links case. A bench of judges M R Shah and Bela M Trivedi also rejected Saibaba’s request for putting him under house arrest in view of his physical disability and health conditions.
The twojudge bench remarked that the HC did not consider the merits of the case, including the gravity of the offences alleged against the convicts. “We are not finding fault with you (Saibaba) but finding fault with HC’s judgment for not entering into the merits of the case and for finding a shortcut to decide,” Justice Shah said.
The SC bench also took into consideration that the accused persons were convicted by the lower court after detailed appreciation of evidence for very serious offences, which are against the sovereignty and integrity of India. “In view of the above, we are of the firm opinion that the impugned judgement and order passed by the HC is required to be suspended,” the top court said in its order while issuing notice and posting the plea for December 8. The order came on the Maharashtra government’s appeal against the HC order. Appearing for Saibaba, advocate R Basant said his client’s medical condition was such that should be released on bail.
“He is 90% disabled, paraplegic and is having multiple other ailments, which are judicially accepted... He’s in a wheelchair and there are no helpers to help him answer the call of nature. Co jailed persons are helping him and it’s causing him stress,” Basant added.
He also submitted that on the date of cognisance and framing of charges, there was no sanction to prosecute him under UAPA. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who appeared for the Maharashtra government, said the purpose of sanction is to ensure that a person is not put to vexatious trial.
However, in Saibaba’s case, a full trial had taken place and the lower court had convicted him and others on the basis of evidence. Mehta also pointed out that Saibaba did not raise the issue of sanction before the trial court but only at the appellate stage before the HC. Mehta argued that Saibaba was involved in various activities, including an armed separatist movement in Jammu and Kashmir, waging a war against the democratic setup of the country and arranging meetings of Maoist commanders. “He was their brain and used to propagate their ideology,” he said.