The Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA) Monday appealed to the university to review disciplinary actions against Dr G N Saibaba, who is serving a life sentence in Nagpur prison for alleged Maoist links. Saibaba was terminated from his position as an Assistant Professor at Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College on March 31 this year.
Saibaba, who is 95% disabled and wheelchair-bound, was arrested in 2014 by the Maharashtra Police and kept in Nagpur Central Jail as an under-trial prisoner for 14 months. The Bombay High Court and the Supreme Court had granted him bail. But in March 2017, he was given a life sentence by Gadchiroli Sessions Court and sent to Nagpur Central Jail. His appeal against the judgement is awaiting hearing before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court.
In the meantime, the College Governing Body had constituted a four-member enquiry committee that began proceedings towards terminating Dr Saibaba’s services. Several correspondences was exchanged between Saibaba’s wife A.S Vasantha on his behalf and RLA College. However, after the last show cause notice sent to him, his wife could not manage to send his reply to the college owing to the academic’s deteriorating health and the prison restrictions on visitation during the Covid-19 lockdown. Saibaba even contracted the Covid-19 virus while in prison. Explaining these circumstances, his wife had written in December 2020 to the college authorities, to which she did not receive any reply.
“The decision to terminate his services without waiting for his reply, when he is unable to respond because of prison lockdown conditions and extreme ill-health (that includes testing positive for Covid along with other life-threatening ailments) seems arbitrary, vindictive and against the principles of natural justice,” the DUTA said in its letter to DU Vice-Chancellor PC Joshi.
DUTA reiterated that since Saibaba's appeal before the Bombay HC has been listed for hearing and the matter is sub-judice, “the case against him cannot be regarded as final until all appellate remedies are exhausted.” The teachers requested the VC to review and withdraw the action taken against Saibaba and not initiate any further action against him until his appeal is heard in the court and decided.
The letter further pointed out that at the time of the professor’s initial suspension and later as well, the Ram Lal Anand College or its Governing Body never made out a case for disciplinary action against Saibaba.
Further, the DUTA pleaded against Saibaba’s termination from DU by giving example Dr. S.A.R Geelani, who was Associate Professor at Zakir Husain College of Delhi University. Geelani, who was accused in the Parliament attack case in 2001, was suspended after his arrest. However, his services were not terminated despite conviction and award of the death penalty by the Trial Court. “He (Geelani) remained under suspension and was reinstated upon his acquittal by the Hon’ble High Court. It is submitted that, similarly, any action against Dr. G.N. Saibaba should await the final decision of the Hon’ble High Court in the matter of his appeal,” the DUTA letter said.
The 53-year-old professor had taught English at DU’s Ram Lal Anand College until his arrest in 2014.