'Hard-Earned Acquittal': Supreme Court Refuses To Stay Bombay High Court Verdict Clearing Professor GN Saibaba Of Alleged Maoist Links

'Hard-Earned Acquittal': Supreme Court Refuses To Stay Bombay High Court Verdict Clearing Professor GN Saibaba Of Alleged Maoist Links

The professor, who is wheelchair-bound due to physical disability, was lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail after the Gadchiroli police arrested him in 2014 for alleged Maoist links.

Vishakha SonawaneUpdated: Monday, March 11, 2024, 02:18 PM IST
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Calling it a "hard-earned acquittal", the Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay to the Bombay High Court verdict that acquitted Professor GN Saibaba and others in Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) case over alleged Maoist links. The Maharashtra government had approached the Supreme Court challenging the Bombay High Court's March 5 judgment. The professor, who is wheelchair-bound due to physical disability, was lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail after the Gadchiroli police arrested him in 2014 for alleged Maoist links.

On Monday, the bench highlighted that Professor GN Saibaba and others had been acquitted twice by separate benches of the high court. In 2022, the Bombay High Court acquitted them, citing the absence of valid sanction under the UAPA.

However, the Supreme Court reversed this decision in 2023, effectively sending the case back to the high court for reevaluation by a different bench. On March 5, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted Professor GN Saibaba and others on the basis of merits, stating a lack of evidence linking them to any terrorist activity and raising doubts about the alleged seizures made by the state police.

"There are two orders of acquittal by two different benches. Prima facie, we find that the judgment is very well-reasoned. Since on an earlier occasion, this court had interfered, we'll have to honour that. Otherwise, this is a very well-reasoned judgment by the high court. In ordinary course, we would not have entertained this appeal. The parameters of interference with acquittal orders are very limited," the bench told Additional Solicitor General SV Raju, who appeared for the State of Maharashtra

"It's a hard-earned acquittal. How many years has the man spent in jail?," Justice Sandeep Mehta said.

"The law is that there is a presumption of innocence. Once there's an order of acquittal, that presumption gets fortified," said Justice BR Gavai.

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