Court refuses to show leniency despite Saibaba's ill health, denies bail plea

Written by SabrangIndia | Published on: March 26, 2019
The Nagpur High Court rejected the bail plea of human rights defender Professor G. N. Saibaba on Monday, March 25. The hearing in the case was completed on Monday, March 4, and the court reserved its order. The Times of India reported that Saibaba’s health report was given to the court at the previous hearing, with his lawyer stating that the professor, who uses a wheelchair, had 19 different ailments that were found during his medical checkup. However, "The court had declined to show any leniency to the wheelchair-bound Saibaba on account of his disability, stating that he was mentally fit and working as a think tank for a banned political organization like CPI (Maoist) and RDF," The Times of India reported.

GN Saibaba
Image Courtesy: Hindustan Times

The Nagpur High Court eventually rejected Saibaba’s plea for bail, "finding no merit in it," with the bench noting that he was an active member of CPI (Maoist) and RDF, the Times of India stated.

Saibaba, along with others, was sentenced to life in prison in March 2017 after being convicted under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) for having links with Maoists. In June 2018, United Nations human rights experts called on the Indian government to release Saibaba, given his deteriorating health.

A fierce human rights activist, Saibaba campaigned for marginalised communities across the country, and, in particular, against human rights violations that were committed during Operation Green Hunt against Maoists in central India. Saibaba’s wife, Vasantha Kumari, issued an impassioned plea for her husband, writing that he is "90 percent physically disabled," and suffers from 19 ailments, some of which "are life threatening and require immediate medical intervention."  She noted, "The state has not provided him any assistance to take care of his basic daily needs, even though his jail cell is not conducive for a disabled person like Saibaba. Not only that every time they bring him to the hospital, the police, who are not professionals in dealing with disabled people, toss him in and out of the wheelchair as a piece of luggage, which has caused the total damage of his left hand," adding, "Every time before the court hearing, the police perform a big drama as if they are seriously attempting to provide treatment for Saibaba. But, in reality, they always bring him to hospitals, which have no infrastructural and personnel capacities either to properly diagnose or treat his illnesses." She emphasised that her husband’s "life has been endangered just because of his relentless fight for the rights of the oppressed castes, classes, and nationalities," and called on democratic institutions, civil society groups, students, teachers and writers to raise their voice against the treatment being meted out to him.

Her complete letter may be read here, and the order in the case is available below: 

"With great disappointment and unfathomable pain, I inform all democratic forces and the academic community that, today, the Nagpur High Court bench has rejected the bail application of my husband, Dr. G N Saibaba, Delhi University English professor, who has been incarcerated in the Anda Cell for the past two years. 
 
Saibaba is a 90 percent physically disabled, wheelchair bound person, who has been suffering from 19 ailments, some of them are life threatening and require immediate medical intervention. When he was convicted in a concocted criminal case two years ago, he was in an intensive care unit undergoing treatment. However, as a law-obeying citizen, he surrendered before the court, and was shifted to the high security prison. Since then, his health has been deteriorating because of the lack of proper diagnosis and treatment. The state has not provided him any assistance to take care of his basic daily needs, even though his jail cell is not conducive for a disabled person like Saibaba. Not only that every time they bring him to the hospital, the police, who are not professionals in dealing with disabled people, toss him in and out of the wheelchair as a piece of luggage, which has caused the total damage of his left hand. Currently, because of his deteriorating health, he is experiencing a partial paralysis of his body, as he could not move his body even to the bare minimum as he used to do previously. This is a gross violation of his human rights, dignity, and a grave threat to his life.
 
Every time before the court hearing, the police perform a big drama as if they are seriously attempting to provide treatment for Saibaba. But, in reality, they always bring him to hospitals, which have no infrastructural and personnel capacities either to properly diagnose or treat his illnesses. The output of this drama is yet another fabricated police summary report that explains to the court that Saibaba has been getting proper treatment and there is no danger for his life.
 
In reality, Saibaba is already half-dead, because several vital organs in his body (pancreas, prostate, gallbladder, urinary bladder, muscular system, nervous system and other) have reached to ill functioning. As a result, he has been experiencing excruciating life in the Anda Cell, Nagpur Central Prison. If the same situation continues any further, it is very clear that there is no chance for him to survive longer. 
 
By rejecting Saibaba’s bail for medical treatment, I believe that the state is planning for his gradual but painful death in the prison. But, I would like to bring to the notice of the people of this country and the global community that by this bail rejection, Saibaba’s fundamental right to live has been curtailed. 
 
Saibaba’s life has been endangered just because of his relentless fight for the rights of the oppressed castes, classes, and nationalities. I once again appeal to all democratic institutions, civil and human rights organizations, students, teachers, and writers to raise your voice against the gross human rights violation meted out to Saibaba, and demand for his release immediately."