SC suspends HC order acquitting Saibaba, others

Saibaba (52), who is wheelchair-bound due to a physical disability and is currently lodged in the Nagpur central prison for more than eight years after his arrest, will remain in jail since the top court also stayed the release of five convicts in the case. One of the convicts is dead.
 GN Saibaba
GN Saibaba

NEW DELHI/NAGPUR: The Supreme Court on Saturday suspended the Bombay High Court order acquitting former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba and five others in an alleged Maoist links case, saying the merits of the case was not considered while granting them the relief.

Saibaba (52), who is wheelchair-bound due to a physical disability and is currently lodged in the Nagpur central prison for more than eight years after his arrest, will remain in jail since the top court also stayed the release of five convicts in the case. One of the convicts is dead.

An apex court bench of justices M R Shah and Bela M Trivedi, which sat on a non-working day to hear the plea by the Maharashtra government against the acquittal order on Friday, said the offences for which the accused were convicted by the trial court are very serious and against the sovereignty and integrity of the country and a detailed scrutiny of the judgment is required as the high court did not consider the merits of the case.

It also rejected Saibaba’s request to order his release from jail due to his health conditions and put him under house arrest. The Maharashtra government opposed the prayer, saying nowadays there is a new tendency of “urban Naxals” to seek house arrest.

It, however, allowed Saibaba, who was arrested in May 2014, to move a fresh bail application. The Bombay High Court had acquitted Saibaba and five others for want of valid sanction for prosecution under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA. The top court also issued notice to Saibaba and others and sought their replies by December 8. A section of activists and Left outfits expressed disappointment over the Supreme Court decision and urged he be given bail for medical treatment.

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