ANI Photo | SC refuses to stay Bombay High Court order acquitting GN Saibaba in Maoist link case

The Supreme Court on Monday refused to stay the Bombay High Court verdict acquitting Delhi University Professor GN Saibaba and five other accused in a case in which he was accused of having links with the banned CPI (Maoist).
A bench of Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta observed that the High Court’s decision appeared to be “well-reasoned” and there cannot be any urgent order to reverse such an acquittal order.
“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 will have to honour that. Otherwise, this is a very well-reasoned judgment by the High Court,” said the bench.
It added, “It’s a hard-earned acquittal. How many years has the man spent in jail? The law is that there is a presumption of innocence. Once there is an order of acquittal, that presumption gets fortified.”
On March 5, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted Saibaba, noting that the prosecution failed to prove the case against him.
Saibaba and others accused were arrested for allegedly having Maoist links and for indulging in activities amounting to “waging war against the country”.
Professor Saibaba was lodged in Nagpur Central Jail in connection with the case.
The High Court on October 14, 2022, allowed an appeal filed by Saibaba and five others challenging a 2017 decision of the trial court convicting and sentencing him to life imprisonment under the anti-terror law UAPA. They were arrested in 2014.
After the High Court order, the Maharashtra government immediately approached the top court in an appeal against the acquittal of Saibaba and others. The top court then set aside the acquittal order and remitted the matter back to the High Court.
The top court had noted that the High Court’s acquittal order rested primarily on the ground that due sanction was not taken before proceeding with the case under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
Now, on March 5 the High Court after re-hearing the case, acquitted Saibaba on merits and reversed the trial court’s 2017 conviction.
In 2022, the High Court ordered the immediate release of Saibaba and the other accused, including a journalist and a JNU student. It was noted that the sanction was accorded for Saibaba’s prosecution only after the trial commenced. For the other accused, the High Court had noted that the sanction order issued to prosecute them in the case under the UAPA was “bad in law and invalid”.
Apart from Saibaba, the High Court acquitted Mahesh Kariman Tirki, Pandu Pora Narote, Hem Keshavdatta Mishra and Prashant Sanglikar, who were sentenced to life imprisonment, and Vijay Tirki who was awarded 10 years in jail. Narote died during the appeal process.
They were sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Court at Gadchiroli, Maharashtra in March 2017 for offences under various sections of UAPA and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code for alleged association with the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which was alleged to be an affiliate of outlawed Maoist organisation

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