The Supreme Court on Friday authorized Attorney General Tushar Mehta, who appeared before the state of Maharashtra to petition the Supreme Court Registry for the early listing of a plea against the acquittal of former Professor GN Saibaba from Delhi University in an alleged Maoist linkage case.
“The SLP has been named in this court because the Honorable CJI has risen for today. Mr. Mehta, SG states that he would apply to the Registry to request administrative directions from the Honorable CJI for an earlier admission tomorrow.”
Mr Mehta notified the bank, consisting of: Judges DY Chandrachud and Hima Kohli on the acquittal by the Bombay High Court and claimed that the crime committed by the acquitted person’serious in nature‘ and ‘against the nation’‘.
“It is a very serious offense against the nation.”
He added that the acquittal was not on merit as such, but on the ground that the prosecutor in this case had not asked for the required sanction. Mr Mehta begged the Apex Court to suspend the acquittal and requested it to list the case on Monday.
“We didn’t lose on merit, it’s on lack of sanction … No prejudice would be caused because he was already in prison.”
Judge Chandrachud refused to uphold the acquittal and said he can order the court to list the case on Monday. He was concerned that even if word was given on Monday, it might not be possible to delay an acquittal.
“He has been granted an acquittal in his favor. Even if we take that Monday, and assuming we give a reminder, we can’t keep the order.”
Mr Mehta has submitted –
“Two days should not harm him. Courts suspend acquittal. It is nothing exceptional”
Today itself, the Bombay High Court (Nagpur Bench) acquitted former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba and five others in an alleged Maoist tire case. The Court upheld their appeals against convictions and life sentences imposed under the UAPA Anti-Terror Act.
The Court ruled that the trial was void because a valid sanction, as required under Section 45 of the UAPA, was not obtained. The Court noted that procedural safeguards should not be sacrificed on the altar of a “perceived threat to national security”.
The bank emphasized the importance of procedural compliance in terrorism cases, noting that “deviation from due process fosters an ecosystem in which terrorism blossoms and feeds vested interests whose sole purpose is to spread false stories.”
A division bank of Justice Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare of the Nagpur bank pronounced the verdict. One of the suspects, Pandu Pora Narote, died in August 2022. Mahesh Tirki, Hem Keshwdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi and Vijay Nan Tirki are the other suspects. The court has ordered the immediate release of Sai Baba and the other accused.
The appellants were represented by Pradeep Mandhyan, Barunkumar, HP Lingayat, Subodh Dharmadhikari Senior Counsel, assisted by Nihalsingh Rathod. Siddharth Dave, special prosecutor senior counsel and HS Chitaley, assistant special prosecutor appeared before the state.
Saibaba, who is in a wheelchair due to post-polio paralysis, had previously filed for a suspension of the sentence on medical grounds. He said he suffers from multiple ailments, including problems with the kidneys and spinal cord. In 2019, the High Court rejected his request for suspension of the sentence.
They were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra in March 2017 for violations under Sections 13, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of the UAPA and 120B of the Indian Penal Code for alleged links to the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), alleged to be an affiliate of a banned Maoist organization. The suspects were arrested in 2014.