Maoist links case: HC acquits ex-DU professor Saibaba, says prosecution failed to prove charges

Bombay High Court on Tuesday acquitted Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in an alleged Maoist links case, noting that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him.
In a 2016 file photo, former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba is seen with his wife Vasantha Kumari outside the Nagpur Central Jail.
In a 2016 file photo, former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba is seen with his wife Vasantha Kumari outside the Nagpur Central Jail.

Nagpur | The Bombay High Court on Tuesday acquitted Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in an alleged Maoist links case, noting that the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him.

The court set aside the life sentence awarded to 54-year-old Saibaba, and held the sanction for prosecution under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) "null and void".

The division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki SA Menezes also acquitted five others accused in the case.

The bench also refused to stay the operation of its order, noting that if the order is stayed, it may affect the personal liberty of the accused persons who have been acquitted.

After the judgment was pronounced orally, the Maharashtra government requested the court to stay the operation of its judgment for six weeks to enable it to file an appeal in the Supreme Court.

The bench directed the government to file an application, which it did later in the day seeking a stay.

Advocate General Birendra Saraf, appearing for the government, informed the bench that an appeal against the high court judgment has been filed in the apex court this afternoon.

Saraf sought the high court to stay its judgment for a reasonable time.

The bench, however, refused to grant a stay, noting that it has, in an exhaustive judgment, held that the prosecution had failed to prove its case against the accused and acquitted them.

"We have already acquitted the accused and directed their release forthwith if not required in any other case. We cannot stall the said order, which may affect the right to personal liberty. We reject the application of stay," the court said.

In its judgment, the high court 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).

"The prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the case against the accused persons," the court held.

"The prosecution has failed to establish any legal seizure or any incriminating material against the accused," it said.

"The trial court judgment is not sustainable in the hands of law. We, therefore, allow the appeals and set aside the impugned judgment. All the accused stand acquitted," the bench said.

The court noted that the sanction procured to prosecute the accused under the UAPA was not legal and proper and hence, the sanction was "null and void".

"The entire prosecution is vitiated on account of invalid sanction to prosecute all the accused. The trial held despite the violation of mandatory provisions of the law itself amounts to the failure of justice," the HC said.

Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound due to physical disability, is lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail since his arrest in the case in 2014.

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

The trial court had held Saibaba and others guilty under various provisions of the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.

On October 14, 2022, another bench of the HC acquitted Saibaba, noting the trial proceedings were "null and void" in the absence of a valid sanction under the UAPA.

The Maharashtra government on the same day approached the Supreme Court challenging the decision.

The apex court initially stayed the order and later in April 2023, set aside the HC order and directed it to hear the appeal filed by Saibaba afresh.

The earlier HC bench comprising Justices Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare, in its October 2022 judgment, said the sanction to prosecute under the UAPA was granted in 2014 against the five accused, who were arrested first, and then against Saibaba in 2015.

The bench had noted that in 2014, when the trial court took cognisance of the chargesheet filed by the prosecution, there was no sanction to prosecute Saibaba under the UAPA.

Justice Deo, who was due to retire in December 2025, tendered his resignation on August 4, 2023, citing personal reasons.

Maha govt moves SC against HC verdict acquitting G N Saibaba

New Delhi | The Maharashtra government on Tuesday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court verdict acquitting former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba in a case in which he was accused of having links with the banned CPI (Maoist).

Earlier in the day, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted Saibaba, noting that the prosecution failed to prove the case against him.

The high court also set aside the life sentence imposed on Saibaba, 54, and acquitted five other accused in the case.

"The prosecution has failed to prove beyond reasonable doubt the case against the accused persons," a division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki SA Menezes said.

It held as "null and void" the sanction procured by the prosecution to charge the accused under anti-terror law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA).

"The prosecution has failed to establish any legal seizure or any incriminating material against the accused," the high court said.

Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound, is lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail since his arrest in the case in 2014.

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

The trial court had held Saibaba and others guilty under various provisions of the UAPA and the Indian Penal Code.

On October 14, 2022, another bench of the high court had acquitted Saibaba, noting the trial proceedings were "null and void" in the absence of a valid sanction under the UAPA.

The Maharashtra government, on the same day, approached the Supreme Court challenging the decision.

The apex court initially stayed the order, and later set it aside in April 2023. It directed the high court to hear his appeal afresh.

The earlier high court bench comprising Justices Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare, in its October 2022 judgment, said the sanction to prosecute the five accused under the UAPA was granted in 2014 and against Saibaba in 2015. The five had been arrested before Saibaba.

The bench had noted that in 2014, when the trial court took cognisance of the charge sheet filed by the prosecution, there was no sanction to prosecute Saibaba under the UAPA.

Justice Deo, who was due to retire in December 2025, tendered his resignation on August 4, 2023, citing personal reasons.

Latest News

No stories found.

Related Stories

No stories found.
logo
Metrovaartha- En
english.metrovaartha.com