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Academic GN Saibaba to stay in jail, rules Supreme Court

New Delhi: GN Saibaba, the former Delhi University professor who is serving a life term for Maoist links, will remain in jail, the Supreme Court said today, suspending the Bombay High Court order on his acquittal.

The top court also sought responses from GN Saibaba and the other accused on a plea moved by the Maharashtra government against the high court order and listed the matter for hearing on December 8.

“The accused were convicted after detailed appreciation of evidence. Offences are very serious, which are against the interest of the society, sovereignty and integrity of India. The high court has not gone into all these aspects and passed the order based on sanction under UAPA,” the bench said, while suspending the October 14 high court verdict.

The top court bench of Justices M R Shah and Bela M Trivedi, which sat on a non-working day to hear the matter, also rejected GN Saibaba’s request for putting him under house arrest in view of his physical disability and health conditions. “My client is 90 per cent physically disabled, has multiple ailments.

He has a 23-year-old daughter and a wife. His bones are touching his lungs, which is further complicating the things. Looking at these aspects, please do not drag him back into jai,” senior advocate Basant, appearing for Mr Saibaba, told the court.

Opposing the plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta said, “Nowadays, there is a tendency of urban naxals that seek house arrest, but everything can be done from home. This house arrest cannot be an option.”

Later, denying the request for house arrest, the bench said that the academic has been convicted for serious offence. “We are not referring to this case but in general. The brain is the most dangerous thing. For terrorists or Maoists, the brain is everything,” Justice Shah said.

The Maharashtra government had approached the top court after the Bombay High Court acquitted Mr Saibaba and ordered his immediate release from jail, noting that the sanction order issued to prosecute the accused in the case under the stringent anti-terror law UAPA (The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act) was “bad in law and invalid”.

The top court agreed to hear the matter on urgent listing on Saturday, usually a holiday at the top court, after Solicitor General Tushar Mehta’s forceful pitch that the acquittal was not justifiable under the UAPA.

Mr Saibaba, 52, who is wheelchair-bound, is currently lodged in the Nagpur central prison. He was arrested in February 2014.

In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district convicted Mr Saibaba and others, including a journalist and a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, of alleged Maoist links and for indulging in activities “amounting to waging war against the country”.