Crime & Justice

Indian top court suspends acquittal of paraplegic professor for Maoist links

New Delhi, Oct 15 (EFE).- The Indian Supreme Court on Saturday nullified a lower court’s ruling that acquitted paraplegic university professor G.N. Saibaba of life imprisonment.

The Bombay high court on Friday had acquitted G.N. Saibaba and four others of alleged links with the Maoist insurgent movement.

“(The Bombay) High Court order stands suspended,” ruled a bench of Justices MR Shah and Bela M Trivedi in a special morning session.

The apex court, however, said that Saibaba may file an application for bail if he so wishes.

According to reports by the legal portal Bar & Bench, the possibility of house arrest for medical reasons was also rejected by the judges, as he was convicted of offences that “are very serious against the interest of the society, sovereignty and integrity of India.”

A former professor at the University of Delhi, Saibaba, who suffers from 90 percent physical disability, was convicted in 2017 by a court in the western state of Maharashtra, linking him to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).

The Bombay High Court ruled Friday the entire trial against him as “null and void” in the absence of a valid sanction under relevant sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

The government of Maharashtra approached the Supreme Court for an urgent hearing on Saturday, although it was not a working day, to stop the release of the academic.

The human rights organization Amnesty International (AI) on Friday had lauded the acquittal of Saibaba, describing it as “a positive development and triumph of justice over repression,” under the draconian UAPA.

“He should have never been jailed in the first place. The Indian authorities have targeted him solely for having spoken out against the violence and discrimination faced by the Dalit and Indigenous communities in India,” said AI.

Saibaba was arrested in 2013 after police linked him to documents, hard drives and USB sticks containing material belonging to the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist) in the possession of several of his students.

The Maoist guerrillas, known locally as “Naxalites” as it emerged from a revolt in the village of Naxalbari in West Bengal in 1967, seek to impose a Maoist style agrarian revolution.

According to data from the South Asia Terrorism Portal, India recorded 237 deaths in Maoist-related incidents last year – 58 of civilians, 51 security forces members and 128 guerrillas.

In 2010, the number of fatalities had reached 1,179, including 630 civilians. EFE


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