NEW DELHI — The Supreme Court on Saturday orally observed that as far as terrorist or Maoist activities are concerned, the brain is more dangerous and direct involvement is not necessary, while suspending October 14 order discharging former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba in a case of having Maoist links.
A bench comprising justices M.R. Shah and Bela M. Trivedi said the Bombay High Court unfortunately passed the order only on grounds of invalid and irregular sanction and did not consider the matter on merits. The bench noted that offences alleged under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) are serious in nature and are against society and the unity of the country.
Senior advocate R. Basant, representing Saibaba, said that he could at maximum be accused of being ideologically inclined and as a “brain” according to the prosecution, but there is nothing to show his involvement.
The bench said that as far as terrorist or Maoist activities are concerned, the brain is more dangerous and the direct involvement is not necessary. Basant said, “How brain is involved here…”. The bench replied that it is a general observation, not with respect to this specific case.
Saibaba’s counsel submitted that he was arrested in 2015, for over 7 years he has been under custody, except for the brief period where he was given bail on medical grounds.
The top court said it is finding fault with the high court for not entering the merits of the case and instead finding a shortcut to decide the matter. Basant said the court must see his client’s medical condition, as he suffers 90 per cent disability owing to post-polio paralysis.
Basant said his client did not abuse any of the conditions imposed while granting bail, and if the court thinks, he can be even ordered to be placed under house arrest. Maharashtra government vehemently opposed the request for placing Saibaba under house arrest. The top court declined to entertain a house arrest request.
The bench said it was just suspending the high court’s judgment and order and the accused can file a bail application. “We will issue a notice for final disposal. It is in everybody’s interest that the outcome must be known at the earliest,” said the top court, and scheduled the matter for further hearing on December 8.
The bench also formulated questions of law for determination, which included a case where the trial court convicted the accused on appreciation of evidence, whether the appellate court is justified to overturn the order on grounds of sanction alone.
The Maharashtra government, which was represented by the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, said the high court decided the entire matter on the point of sanction alone without adverting to the evidence. The state, in its appeal against the high court order, said: “The High Court has, without considering the fact that the point of sanction was neither raised not argued, decided the entire matter solely on the point of sanction and held the trial to be vitiated,” it said.
On Friday, the High Court overturned the conviction and life term sentence of accused Mahesh Kariman Tirki, Hem Keshavdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi Nrayan Sanglikar and G N Saibaba. One accused Vijay Nan Tirki was on bail, while another one Pandu Pora Narote had died during the pendency of the appeal. — IANS
Photo: Former Delhi University Professor G.N. Saibaba