Chhattisgarh HC rejects Binayak Sen`s bail, activists shocked
Binayak Sen was sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court in Raipur on sedition charges.
Bilaspur (Chhattisgarh): The Chhattisgarh High Court Thursday rejected the plea of human rights activist Binayak Sen for bail and suspension of the life term awarded to him for sedition and his links with the Maoists. Sen`s family and supporters termed the decision "disappointing" and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.
A division bench of Justice T.P.Sharma and Justice R.L.Jhanwar pronounced the judgment in a jam-packed court room here, some 110 km from Raipur.
"The application filed by the accused is dismissed," ruled the bench in a courtroom packed with right activists, representatives of NGOs and Sen`s family members and friends.
"The high court has largely agreed with my arguments in its 20-page judgment that Sen has strong links to Maoists. I am happy that the court dismissed the bail application," prosecution counsel and Additional Advocate General Kishore Bhaduri, who appeared on behalf of the Chhattisgarh government, told reporters.
Sen is at present lodged in a jail in state capital Raipur after he was sentenced by a trial court there Dec 24 for sedition and for his links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata-based businessman Piyush Guha. Both of them have also been warded life terms.
Sen was accused of acting as a courier between Sanyal and Guha. The high court also turned down Guha`s bail application.
Sen`s counsel Mahendra Dubey told reporters that they will be moving a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court challenging the high court order. "Apparently, the high court had felt that prima facie the applicant was guilty of the offences," he said.
Dipankar Sen, Sen`s brother who was present in the court room, said: "Dr.Sen is a man of honour. I am hopeful that he would get bail from the apex court".
The trial court verdict against Sen, 61, was widely slammed by human right activists in India and abroad, who say he was victimised by Chhattisgarh`s Bharatiya Janata Party government for highlighting human rights abuses.
Sen`s wife Ilina Sen termed the court decision "very disappointing".
"It`s very disappointing but I am not going to stop now, (I) will approach the Supreme Court because I have no other options," Ilina told IANS.
Social activist Swami Agnivesh termed the high court ruling "extremely sad".
Agnivesh, who is presently in Chhattisgarh`s restive Bastar region, said: "I was not expecting such a sad decision. Sen is a great social worker, I am really pained."
Rajendra K. Sail, former Chhattisgarh president of the People`s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), said: "It`s highly unfortunate, I was expecting justice from high court at least but here too I was stunned." He said that right activists will now fight the case afresh in Supreme Court."
Meanwhile, Brijmohan Agrawal, a senior state government minister, welcomed the high court judgment and described it as "a vindication of the state government`s stand on Binayak Sen".
"Now when the high court has dismissed the bail application, it is better for so-called human rights activists in India and abroad to keep away attacking Chhattisgarh government and the state police," he said, adding: "The court verdict has again exposed the real face of Sen."
Two women representatives of the European Union had attended the hearing on all three days - Jan 24 and 25 and Feb 9.
Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani had opened the arguments for Sen Jan 24, terming the Dec 24 trial court verdict "a case of no evidence" and "political prosecution" in his over two-hour-long submission.
Another lawyer, Surendra Singh, who argued in favour of Sen Jan 25, told the bench that "documents were planted by Chhattisgarh Police to establish some connection of Sen with the Maoists".
The division bench had reserved its order till Thursday after Bhaduri wrapped up his arguments, saying "the seized documents and other evidence were sufficient for not suspending the sentence awarded to Sen by the trial court".