Bombay High Court Overturns Conviction of GN Saibaba in Maoist Link Case

Bombay High Court Nagpur

Nagpur: In a landmark judgment, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court has acquitted former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, nullifying his life sentence and the convictions of five others linked to the case. The bench, comprising Justice Vinay Joshi and Justice SA Menezes, ruled that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to sustain the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

The case, which has drawn significant attention, involved allegations of connections with Maoist organizations and “waging war” against India. Saibaba, along with Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirkey, Vijay Tirkey, Narayan Sanglikar, Prashant Rahi, and the late Pandu Narote, were previously sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Gadchiroli district in 2017. The High Court’s decision also highlighted the invalidity of the sanction granted for filing charges under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), a critical aspect of the prosecution’s case.

This acquittal follows a series of legal proceedings, including a previous acquittal by the High Court in October 2022, which was contested by the Maharashtra government leading to a Supreme Court intervention. The apex court had initially stayed the High Court’s order, demanding a re-examination of the appeal filed by Saibaba.

GN Saibaba, a 54-year-old academic who is wheelchair-bound due to a physical disability, has been incarcerated at Nagpur Central Jail since 2014. His arrest and subsequent life sentence under UAPA and various provisions of the Indian Penal Code have been a subject of controversy and debate, touching on issues of human rights and freedom of expression.

The recent verdict has not only absolved the accused of all charges but also raises questions about the legal processes involved in the use of stringent acts like UAPA. While the prosecution has not sought a stay on the High Court’s order, it has indicated the possibility of an appeal to the Supreme Court.

Bombay High Court Nagpur

The case of GN Saibaba has become emblematic of the challenges faced by individuals and the scrutiny of laws intended to address extremism and national security concerns. The High Court’s acquittal is a significant development in the discourse on civil liberties and the state’s approach to dissent and security.