GN Saibaba release: SC dismisses Maharashtra govt petition to stay acquittal

Former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba was recently acquitted from the UAPA case.
Professor GN Saibaba
Professor GN SaibabaTwitter/Nalin Verma
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The Supreme Court, on Monday, March 11, dismissed the Maharashtra government’s plea to stay the acquittal of former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba. Refusing to stay the acquittal, the bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta said that the Bombay High Court’s verdict was “very well-reasoned.”  

Earlier on March 5, the Bombay High Court acquitted Saibaba and five others in the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) case against them for their alleged association with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). Subsequently, the Maharashtra government appealed for a stay against the High Court order. 

According to Bar and Bench, Justice Gavai said, “Prima facie we find that judgment is 'very well reasoned'. There cannot be any urgency to reverse orders of acquittal.” Justice Mehta reportedly said, “Urgency (would be) only to reverse conviction (and not acquittal) ... There has to be grounds for (the reversal of an acquittal).”

Former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba was arrested along with five others – Mahesh Kariman Tirki, Pandu Pora Narote (deceased), Hem Keshavdatta Mishra and Prashant Rahi – in 2014 for their alleged association with the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist).

In 2017, they were convicted on terrorism charges by the Gadchiroli trial court. 

Saibaba was lodged in Nagpur Central jail for ten years, an imprisonment that he described as “brutal” during a press meet after his release. 

Read: 'Who will give Saibaba his health back?': Activists react to his acquittal in UAPA case 

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 an appeal by the Maharashtra government, the Supreme Court immediately suspended the High Court order and sent Saibaba and the others back to prison. 

On March 5, the Bombay High Court 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, therefore, declared the sanction against the accused under the UAPA as “null and void.”

Meanwhile, the Committee for Defence and Release of GN Saibaba asked the Delhi University to reinstate Saibaba with retrospective benefits and compensation.

“Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Mahesh Tirki, Vijay Tirki, and the family of the late Pandu Narote should be granted compensation for the years-long wrongful incarceration and loss of life of Pandu Narote under detention,” the Committee said. 

Read: GN Saibaba’s acquittal: Rights activists seeks compensation and reinstatement in DU

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