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Bombay HC Acquits ex-DU Prof G N Saibaba, 5 Others, in Alleged Maoist Link Case

The verdict by the Nagpur Bench of Bombay HC was delivered by Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki SA Menezes, who reheard Saibaba’s appeal after the SC set aside an earlier HC acquittal order.
GN sai baba

New Delhi: After 10 years in jail and losing his job in the prestigious Delhi University, wheelchair bound and over 90% disabled Prof G N Saibaba and five others were on Tuesday acquitted by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court in an alleged Maoist link case. He was arrested in 2014.

Setting aside the verdict of a sessions court in 2017, the bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki S A Menezes, said the accused can be released from prison upon deposit of a bail bonds of Rs 50,000 each, till the Supreme Court decides the State’s appeal, according to a report in Bar & Bench. “Pertinently the State did not ask for a stay on the judgement,” the report added.

According to reports, the bench said it was acquitting all the accused as the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt against them.

It also held as "null and void" the sanction procured by the prosecution to charge the accused under provisions of the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA, said a report in the Hindustan Times.

Read Also: G.N. Saibaba – The Teacher I Could Not Have

Saibaba, 54, has been serving a life sentence in the Nagpur prison, and was terminated by Delhi University’s Ram Lal Anand College where he used to teach English, on March 31, 2021. He was arrested in 2014 by the Maharashtra Police and kept in Nagpur Central Jail as an under-trial prisoner for 14 months, after which DU had suspended him. 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. He had appealed against the judgement before the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court, which had, after the hearing, reserved its judgement in September last year, following directions from the Supreme Court.

The Nagpur bench reheard the appeal by Saibaba after the earlier bench of the Bombay HC had also acquitted the former DU professor on October 14, 2022. The rehearing took place after the Supreme Court sent the matter back to the high court in October 2022, said Bar & Bench.

In 2017, the Gadhchiroli sessions court had held that Saibaba and two other accused were in “possession of naxal literature with the intent and purpose of circulation amongst underground naxalites at Gadchiroli and residents of the district with the aim to incite the people to resort to violence,” the report.

After that Saibaba moved the Bombay High Court against the sessions court order, which was heard by a bench led by Justice Rohit B Deo, which had on October 14, 2022, allowed the appeal and had acquitted Saibaba.

“The High Court had recorded that while terrorism poses an ominous threat to national security and every legitimate weapon in the armoury must be deployed against it, a civil democracy cannot sacrifice procedural safeguards afforded to the accused’ said the Bar & Bench report.

Thereafter, the Maharashtra government approached the Supreme Court challenging the verdict, which held a special sitting on October 15, 2022 and suspended the HC decision.

Notably, this order was passed by a bench of Justices M R Shah and Beal M Trivedi.

“Subsequently, after a lengthy hearing, a bench of the top court comprising Justices MR Shah and CT Ravikumar on April 19, 2023, set aside the High Court acquittal judgment and remanded the matter to the High Court for fresh consideration.

It then came to be heard by Justices Joshi and Menezes.”

“Interestingly, Justice Rohit Deo of the High Court who had acquitted Saibaba, resigned as HC judge on August 2, 2023,” the report added.

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