The Supreme Court has granted bail to civil rights activist Dr Binayak Sen, who had been accused of colluding with Naxalites and sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of sedition. (Read:
Who is Binayak Sen?)
The court observed that there was no evidence against Sen and that no case of sedition was made out. At best, it said, he could be called a sympathizer but nothing beyond that. It left it to the satisfaction of the trial court concerned to impose conditions for his release on bail. (Foreign Media on Binayak
Sen, who is a vice-president of the People's Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), was accused of colluding with Naxals to establish a network to fight the state. He was charged with sedition and was convicted and sentenced along with Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha, to life imprisonment by a Chhattisgarh trial court.
The Chhattisgarh High Court had rejected his bail plea on February 10 and the 61-year-old had challenged that order in the Supreme Court.
On the charge of sedition against Binayak Sen, Supreme Court judge Justice CK Prasad asked, "If Gandhi's book was found in my house, would that make me Gandhian?" This was a reference to the charge that literature that suggested Naxal leanings had been found in Sen's house.
The Chhattisgarh government had opposed bail for Sen and in its affidavit had said that the activist should not be granted any relief as "he has deep links with hardcore Naxalites." The affidavit read, "He (Sen) provides active support and co-ordinates in spreading the base of CPI-Maoist in the country. Apart from providing logistic support, he exchanges information and material directly and indirectly with the Naxalites in the area of Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa and propagates Naxal ideology."
The state government contended that Sen helped in arranging accommodation for Naxal leaders in Raipur and through his wife Ilena, he also helped in opening bank accounts of hardcore Naxalites Shankar Singh and Amita Shrivastava.
A professional doctor and a pass-out of Vellore's prestigious Christian Medical College (CMC), Sen sought bail pleading that the trial court had erred in convicting him when there was no substantial evidence against him.
Sen's conviction was criticised by his supporters and even some international human rights bodies; some even sought the government's permission to observe court proceedings in the case.
Binayak Sen's wife Ilena said after he was granted bail that she was, "Only beginning to breathe...Trial and legal process will continue to plague us for some more time...Matter is subjudice...Appeal is pending...You can have your sympathies, that doesn't make you seditious." She also quoted Justice Prasad's remark on Gandhi's book. (Watch
- Ilena Sen: This part of nightmare is over)Who is Binayak Sen?
• He has worked for 25 years as a doctor with tribals in Chhattisgarh
• Criticised Salwa Judum for rights violations, misuse of powers
• Was a member of State Committee on Health Sector Reforms
• Won several awards for contribution to health and human rightsRespect Supreme Court decision: Chhattisgarh Chief Minister
Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh today said that his government "respects" the Supreme Court's decision of granting bail to activist Binayak Sen, convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for sedition by Chhattisgarh High Court.
"We respect the decision given by Supreme Court," Singh said.
"We have always respected any court's decision and we will continue to do that," the chief minister of the BJP ruled state said. (Watch)
A bench comprising Justices H S Bedi and C K Prasad of the apex court in New Delhi passed the order on the petition moved by Sen challenging the order of Chhattisgarh High Court denying him bail.
"Supreme Court has only granted him the bail. The pending legal process will continue in High Court at Bilaspur. Whatever the final verdict be, we will respect that decision too," Singh said.
In its order, the Supreme Court said it was giving no reason for granting bail to 61-year-old Sen and left it to the satisfaction of the trial court concerned to impose the conditions for his release on bail.