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Human rights activist Binayak Sen gets bail
Published on 15 Apr. 2011 10:48 PM IST
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The Supreme Court Friday granted bail to human rights activist Binayak Sen who is undergoing life imprisonment in a Chhattisgarh jail on charges of sedition and links with Maoists.
No case for sedition was made out against Sen, the apex court bench of Justice Harjit Singh Bedi and Justice Chandramauli Kumar Prasad said while making a scathing observation that a person does not become a Gandhian just because he is found with a biography of Mahatma Gandhi.
The bench said the bail would be subject to the satisfaction of the trial court. The court ridiculed the state’s submission that Sen was actively involved in spreading disharmony and disaffection against the state.
“We are in a democratic country. At best he (Binayak Sen) is a sympathizer. There are many sympathizers of a cause,” the court observed.
The court asked senior counsel Uday Lalit appearing for the Chhattisgarh government: “Even going by your case, does admitted fact point to violence and sedition (against Binayak Sen)?”
“Distribution and circulation and even possession of (Maosit ideology and propaganda material) does not amount to sedition,” the court said.
At this, senior counsel Ram Jethmalani appearing for Sen told the court that the documents that the state government had relied upon for alleging sedition against the rights activists were “available in the book form and could be had from any bookshop”.
When Lalit said that an organ of judiciary (trial court and the Chhattisgarh High Court) had relied on these documents to hold Sen guilty of sedition, the court said, “Even in the worst case scenario, that he (Sen) was in possession of these documents, does not make him guilty of sedition”.
As Lalit drew the attention of the court about Sen meeting the jailed Maoist leader Piyush Guha 35 times in three years, the court said: “They meet in the visitors’ room in the presence of police officials and are searched before and after the meeting”.
The court said that even if the state government’s contention that Sen was in the possession of banned material and was involved in its circulation was true, it did not justify the charge of sedition.
Granting bail to Binayak Sen, the court said, “Even if we take your (state government’s) case at its very best, can it amount to to sedition?”
It said, “He (Sen) may be meeting 100 people every day. He is a sympathizer (of Maoists) and he is helping them, (Yet) no case of sedition is made out against him.”
Sen, 61, at present in a jail in the Chhattisgarh capital Raipur, had challenged the Feb 10 order of the high court rejecting his bail plea.
He was sentenced by the trial court Dec 24, 2010, for sedition. He was accused of acting as a courier between Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata-based businessman Guha, both of whom have also been jailed for life.
The state government, in its reply to Sen’s petition in the high court, said he “has the same ideology as that of CPI-Maoist (Communist Party of India-Maoist) and he is addressed as a comrade by hardcore Naxalites (Maoists)”.
“He provides active support and co-ordinates in spreading the base of CPI-Maoist in the country. For hardcore Naxalites, he arranges safe hideouts by arranging house on rent, helps open bank account, helps in getting employment to conceal identity and provides employment by incorporating trusts.”
The Chhattisgarh government claimed Sen was helping the Maoists in building “urban network and sympathisers”.

Respect 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.
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.

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