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At 11 A.M., on Saturday, a Supreme Court Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice Bela M Trivedi will hear an appeal by the State against the acquittal granted yesterday to former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba in a matter involving alleged Maoist links.
LiveLaw quoted excerpts from the State’s appeal against the acquittal: “The High Court by the impugned judgment has reversed a well-reasoned and detailed judgment of conviction of the accused which was after considering at length the provisions under the UAPA Act, the material collected against the accused and other facts and circumstances of the matter.”
Readers would recall that yesterday, a Nagpur Division Bench of the Bombay High Court had acquitted the 52-year-old wheelchair-bound professor as well as five others in a case where they stood accused of “waging war” against the nation and had been convicted under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The court had set aside the conviction on the grounds that the trial was held without valid sanction under Section 45 of UAPA.
According to LiveLaw, the State has claimed that the point of sanctions was neither raised nor argued before the Trial court. Moreover, they argue that as per Sections 461 and 465, irregularity in sanctions cannot vitiate a trial.
Others acquitted in the case are Pandu Pora Narote, Hem Keshwdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi Mahesh Tirki and Vijay Nan Tirki (both Adivasis). However, this news came too late for Narote, who died in August this year. The court ordered their immediate release.
A division bench of Justice Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare allowed the appeal challenging a 2017 trial court order that convicted them. In the 101-page order, the division bench dealt at length on the issue of the conditions and grounds for mandatory sanction under the UAPA. The Judges held that the Police did not take the approval of the independent authorities for the sanction, which here is Director, Prosecution in Maharashtra.
But shortly afterwards, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta demanded an urgent hearing against the appeal, claiming the acquittal was not justifiable. NDTV quoted him as saying, “We have not lost on merit but for want of sanction. The matter will become infructuous as they will be released from jail, if not (the case is) urgently listed.” But the court disagreed and said, “It will not become infructuous. They have an acquittal order in their favour. We cannot stay the acquittal order without issuing notice to them and would list the matter for Monday (October 17) and may take the matter on top of the board.”
The publication reports that first a bench of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli turned him down saying, “You move an application before the registry for taking administrative decision on urgent listing of the matter from the Chief Justice of India.” But later in the evening the matter was listed for hearing on Saturday, a holiday, before Justice MR Shah and Justice Bela M Trivedi.