New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Friday granted bail to Dr Binayak Sen, who has been convicted for sedition and sentenced to life by a Raipur court in Chhattisgarh. A bench comprising Justices HS Bedi and CK Prasad passed the order on the petition moved by Sen challenging the order of Chhattisgarh High Court denying him bail.
The apex court said it was giving no reason for granting bail to 61-year-old Sen and left it to the satisfaction of the trial court concerned to impose the conditions for his release on bail.
While granting bail to Sen, the court observed that even if he is a Naxal sympathiser, it does not makes him guilty of sedition.
"We are a democratic country. If Gandhian literature is found on some one, it doesn't make him a Gandhian. He may be a Naxal sympathiser but that doesn't make him guilty of sedition," said the court. The court also observed that possession of Naxal literature is not a proof of sedition.
"He is a sympathiser. Nothing beyond that," the bench further said.
Senior advocate Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Sen, submitted in his affidavit that the state has been unable to point out misconduct on his part.
The bench also said that all the statements made by the state has no relevance.
It said other documents and evidences produced by the state government including that he met co-accused Piyush Guha 30 times in a jail and pamphlets and documents relating to Naxal activities were recovered from his possession did not mean that he was involved in seditious activities.
However, senior advocate UU Lalit, appearing for the state government, said that no case is made out for the bail and submitted that the activities of Sen have to be seen in a broader perspective.
When the bench asked him whether his activities in any way connect to the offence of sedition, Lalit said, "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."
When the court asked him if there were any documents backing the charge of sedition, Lalit said Sen visited the jail and exchanged documents with Guha and others.
However, this submission did not satisfy the bench, which said, "Visitors are screened and searched by the jail staff when they go and meet the inmates. The jailors are there to oversee all these things. So the question of passing letters or documents doesn't arise."
"The worst can be said that he was found in possession of general documents (relating to Naxal activities) but how can it be said that such possession would attract the charge of sedition. How can you lay the charge of sedition?" the bench asked.
While granting bail, the bench said, "We are concerned with the implementation of the judgement as even no case of sedition is made out."
Sen's mother Anusuya Sen said that her son is a Gandhian and has never indulged in violence.
"I am very much relieved, very much happy. My son has gone through much," said Anusuya.
Dr Binayak Sen, a gold medallist from CMC, Vellore and a human rights activist, was convicted for sedition and sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment by a Raipur court on December 24, 2010.
The state claims that Dr Sen is a Naxal conduit but his supporters say he has been penalised for criticising Chhattisgarh's anti-Naxal policies.
Dr Sen was arrested from Bilaspur on May 14, 2007. The Supreme Court granted him bail on May 25, 2009. But, on December 24, 2010, he was convicted for sedition and sentenced to rigorous life imprisonment by a Raipur court.
His battle for bail began on January 24, 2011 when the Chhattisgarh High Court began hearing on suspension of his sentence. But on February 10, 2011, the High Court dismissed his bail plea.
The Supreme Court on March 3, 2011 admitted a special leave petition (SLP) and issued notices to the Chhattisgarh government, giving it four weeks to reply on Sen's bail plea.
On March 11, 2011 the prosecution asked for more time. Finally on April 15, 2011 a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court granted him bail.