Jailed Assistant Professor Saibaba was issued a memorandum of his termination Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University on March 31.

GN SaibabaFile photo/PTI
news Controversy Wednesday, April 07, 2021 - 15:59

Firing GN Saibaba is a move to intimidate other human rights activists, his wife AS Vasantha says. The jailed academic was terminated as Assistant Professor by Ram Lal Anand College of Delhi University on March 31, a move that has earned the college severe criticism from civil society.

Saibaba, who is convicted for his alleged association with Maoists, was removed from his services by the College on March 31. 

“The services of Dr GN Saibaba, Assistant Professor, Ram Lal Anand College are terminated with effect from the afternoon of 31st day of March, 2021,” reads the Memorandum issued by Ram Lal Anand College.

The decision of the college has caused major distress to his wife and family, who are worried about their future, having been deprived of income. “I am worried about our loans. My daughter is pursuing her post graduation. Our finances are in poor shape. This is plain harassment by the administration. They want to make an example of us and intimidate other intellectuals,” Vasantha told TNM.

Saibaba, who is wheelchair bound, is an Assistant Professor at Ram Lal Anand College. He was arrested in 2014 for allegedly having links with Maoists. Subsequently, he was convicted in 2017 by the Gadchiroli Session Court, and is serving prison time in Nagpur Jail’s solitary cell. Following his arrest, he has been only receiving 50% of the salary. 

The action taken by the University has been dubbed as “arbitrarily, and in complete violation of all principles of natural justice” by the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr G N Saibaba, which comprises activists and intellectuals. 

In a statement issued on April 6 asking the College to reinstate the jailed professor, the Committee said: “The Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr G N Saibaba strongly condemns this arbitrary action, and demands that the college and Delhi University immediately reverse their decision, and reinstate Dr Saibaba in service, until his appeal against his conviction is disposed off.” 

The Inquiry Committee had initiated disciplinary action against Saibaba in May 2017, and the second show cause notice was issued in September, 2020, while the jailed professor was recovering from COVID-19. Due to the restrictions imposed in jail in view of COVID-19, which did not allow ‘Mulakaats’, Vasantha had sought time from the college, which was taken into considerationon0. However, they gave just fifteen days of time to reply. 

“She replied stating that Dr Saibaba was unable to reply because of extreme ill-health, and the lockdown due to COVID-19 only made matters worse for him. However, without waiting for Dr Saibaba’s reply to this second notice, the College has arbitrarily, and in complete violation of all principles of natural justice, proceeded to terminate his services,” the Committee said.  

Similarly, the Delhi University Teachers’ Association has  condemned the action of Ram Lal Anand College.

“If the University has approved of the decision of the Governing Body, it seems to be in contradiction to its own explicit instruction of issuing fresh show cause notice to Dr Saibaba. Once the show cause was issued, the college should have waited for the reply before taking adverse action in the matter. The decision to terminate his services without waiting for his reply, when he is unable to respond because of prison lockdown conditions and extreme ill-health (that includes testing positive for Covid along with other life-threatening ailments) seems arbitrary, vindictive and against the principles of natural justice,” the statement by DUTA reads.

Action Inhumane

Besides intellectuals and rights activists, politicians too have condemned the termination of Saibaba.

Speaking to TNM, Sravan Dasoju, spokesperson of the Congress in Telangana said, “First of all, these are all fabricated cases. They (government) want to create an environment of threat and intimidation with these cases, and on top of it termination is nothing but harassment. The message they are trying to convey is that anybody who has a different ideology other than the ruling party will all be penalised.”

“The termination is definitely harassment. It has to be decided by the Court. The Congress party does not believe in this kind of unilateral decision. It is anti-democracy and against human rights.”  

TRS MP Keshava Rao too condemned the College’s decision. Stating that Saibaba’s termination amounts to violation of human rights, he was quoted as saying: “It is not correct to remove him from his job while the case is still pending in the court. There are several instances when professors joined back to their duties after being acquitted by the court in various cases.”