Bombay HC acquits former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba in UAPA case

GN Saibaba was arrested along with five others in 2014 under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for being alleged members of the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).
GN Saibaba
GN SaibabaFile Photo
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The Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, on Tuesday, March 5, acquitted former Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba and five others in the alleged Maoist-links case. A division bench of Justices Vinay Joshi and Valmiki SA Menezes pronounced the judgement after re-hearing the appeal petition filed by Saibaba. The wheel-chair bound academician was arrested along with five others – Mahesh Tikri, Pandu Pora Narote (deceased), Hem Keshavdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi, and Vijay Tikri – in 2014 for their alleged association with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist). He is currently lodged in the Nagpur Central jail.

Earlier in 2022, the Bombay High Court had set aside the conviction order of the Gadchiroli Sessions Court and acquitted all the accused in the case. However, following the appeal by the Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court immediately suspended the Bombay High Court order and sent them back to prison. The apex court remanded back the order to the High Court for fresh hearing. The Supreme Court had also rejected Saibaba's request for putting him under house arrest in view of his deteriorating health. The Supreme Court had ordered a different bench of the High Court to rehear the case afresh. It  asked the High Court to dispose of the appeals expeditiously, preferably within four months.

While hearing the plea, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay HC on Tuesday said that it was acquitting all the accused in the case as the prosecution failed to prove the case beyond reasonable doubt against them. The Court declared the sanction against the accused under the UAPA as “null and void.”

GN Saibaba, Mahesh Kariman Tikri (farmer), Pandu Pora Narote ( farmer), Hem Keshavdatta Mishra (student) and Prashant Sanglikar (journalist), were sentenced to life imprisonment, while Vijay Tirki (labourer), was sentenced to 10 years in jail. Pandu Pora Narote died in August 2022 during the pendency of the appeal. They were accused of being members of the banned CPI party and its frontal organisation–Revolutionary Democratic Front.

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