G N Saibaba, Ex-DU Professor and 5 Others Acquitted by Bombay HC in UAPA Case over Alleged Maoist Links

Nagpur Bench of Bombay HIGH COURT LAW INSIDER

Tanisha Rana

Published on: October 14, 2022 at 21:44 IST

G N Saibaba, a former professor at Delhi University, and five other people were acquitted by the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) in the case involving alleged Maoist links. Their appeals against the conviction and life sentence given under the anti-terror law UAPA have been accepted by the Court.

The trial was declared invalid by the court because a proper sanction as needed by Section 45 of the UAPA was not obtained.

A “perceived threat to national security” cannot be sacrificed on the altar of procedural safeguards, the Court stated.

“Verily, terrorism poses an ominous threat to national security. Vile and abhorrent acts of terror do evoke collective societal anger and anguish.”

“While the war against terror must be waged by the State with unwavering resolve, and every legitimate weapon in the armoury 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 Siren Song that the end justifies the means, and that the procedural safeguards are subservient to the overwhelming need to ensure that the accused is prosecuted and punished, must be muzzled by the voice of Rule of Law.”

The court stressed the significance of following procedural rules in terrorist cases, noting that “departure from the due process of law produces an atmosphere in which terrorism burgeons and provides grist to vested interests whose sole aim is to propagate false narratives.”

The decision was made by a division bench consisting of Justices Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare from the Nagpur bench.

Pandu Pora Narote, one of the accused, passed away in August 2022.

The other accused are Vijay Nan Tirki, Mahesh Tirki, Hem Keshwdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi, and Tirki. Sai Baba and the other accused are to be released right away, per the court’s instruction.

The appellants were represented by Nihalsingh Rathod with assistance from Pradeep Mandhyan, Barunkumar, H.P. Lingayat, and Senior Counsel Subodh Dharmadhikari.

The State was represented by Siddharth Dave, Senior Special Public Counsel, and H.S. Chitaley, Assistant Special Public Counsel.

Due to his post-polio paralysis, Saibaba is confined to a wheelchair. He previously made an appeal to have her sentence suspended on medical grounds. He claimed to have a number of illnesses, including kidney and spinal cord issues.

The High Court denied his request to have his sentence suspended in 2019.

For offences under Sections 13, 18, 20, 38, and 39 of the UAPA and Section 120 B of the Indian Penal Code for alleged association with the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which was alleged to be an affiliate of the outlawed Maoist organisation, they were sentenced to life in prison by the Sessions Court at Gadchiroli, Maharashtra in March 2017.

In 2014, the accused were arrested.

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