South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Rights activist Binayak Sen, serving a life sentence for sedition, was released from the Raipur Central Jail on Monday evening, three days after the Supreme Court said he should get bail.

Earlier in the day, Chhattisgarh’s Additional Session Judge B P Verma had however set the terms for the bail – Rs 50,000 bond and a surety amount of Rs 50,000.

Sen has also been asked to surrender his passport and visa (if any). He can’t travel out of the country either without the court’s permission.

Sen’s lawyer Mahendra Dubey said he will also have to appear in court at a pre-decided date.

Last Friday, the apex court observed that Sen was “only a sympathiser and nothing beyond that” of the Naxalite movement before granting him bail.

Binayak Sen is serving a life sentence after being found guilty of sedition for harbouring and helping Naxalites.

Noting that “we are a democratic country”, a Bench of Justices H S Bedi and C K Prasad had observed that merely “sympathising” with the Naxalite movement would not lead to the offence of sedition.

“Can we call a person Gandhian just because a copy of the Mahatma’s autobiography was found at his home? Is it your case that having documents and pamphlets on Maoists and Naxalites at his (Sen’s) house (makes him an outlaw)?” the Bench poked holes at the Chhattisgarh government affidavit’s reference to the alleged recovery of documents and pamphlets from Sen’s house.

He is also accused of having visited co-accused Piyush Guha 33 times in the jail, besides having “deep links” with the Naxalite leadership.

The state’s affidavit stated that Sen’s alleged complicity included “providing logistic support, exchange of information and material directly and indirectly with the Naxalites in the areas of Chhattisgarh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Bihar, Jharkhand and Orissa and propagates Naxal ideology”.

Senior counsel U U Lalit, representing the state government, requested the court to consider the larger picture involved in the case, including that “a host of allegations were arraigned against the accused”.

“There is a host of allegations against him. He was harbouring them (Naxalites), getting houses for them. He was not a genuine sympathiser,” Lalit argued.

My case has been accepted by the trial court and the apex court has only to consider whether he can be granted bail or not,” the senior advocate said.

Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for 61-year-old Sen, said the conviction for sedition was untenable and illegal in the face of law and the trial court judgment did not comply with any requirement of law.

Source: The Indian Express – 18.04.2011