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Not lost on merit, Maharashtra moves SC for stay of acquittal of ex DU Prof Saibaba [Read Order]

By LawStreet News Network      14 October, 2022 11:20 PM      0 Comments
Not lost on merit, Maharashtra moves SC for stay of acquittal of ex DU Prof Saibaba [Read Order]

NEW DELHI: The Maharashtra government on Friday urgently moved the Supreme Court against the Bombay High Court's judgement acquitting former Delhi University professor G N Saibaba and others in a case related to having links with banned Maoists organisation.

A bench of Justices M R Shah and Bela M Trivedi would hold a special sitting on Saturday to take up the matter.

On Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta mentioned the matter before a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hima Kohli seeking stay of the High Court's judgement.

"We have not lost on merit, it is only on lack of sanction. No prejudice would be caused because the accused were already in jail," he said.

Mehta further contended the offence against the accused was very serious in nature and against the nation. He also said an application would be moved for listing the matter on Saturday.

Mehta reiterated that there would not be any prejudice caused to the accused persons. There is nothing exceptional in granting stay, he contended.

On Friday morning, a division bench of the Bombay High Court overturned the sentence life term awarded to Saibaba and others due to procedural irregularity in grant of sanction for prosecution under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The High Court had held the proceedings in Sessions Trials are null and void in the absence of valid sanction under Section 45(1) of the UAPA, and the common judgment by the trial court is liable to be set aside.

"We are inclined to hold, that every safeguard, however miniscule,legislatively provided to the accused, must be zealously protected," the HC said.

"The Siren Song that the end justifies the means, and that the procedural safeguards are subservient to the overwhelming need to ensure that the accused is prosecuted and punished, must be muzzled by the voice of Rule of Law. Any aberration shall only be counter productive, since empirical evidence suggests that departure from the due process of law fosters an ecosystem in which terrorism burgeons and provides fodder to vested interests whose singular agenda is to propagate false narratives," the bench added.

The court ordered immediate release of accused, Mahesh Kariman Tirki, Hem Keshavdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi Nrayan Sanglikar and accused G N Saibaba. Another accused Vijay Nan Tirki was already on bail, while another one Pandu Pora Narote had died during the pendency of the appeal.

All the accused were held guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Sessions Court at Gadchiroli on March 7, 2017 for being members of banned terrorist organisation under the provisions of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

In its petition, the state government said the High Court decided the entire matter on the point of sanction alone without adverting to the evidence.

"The High Court has erred in not considering the fact that the point of sanction was neither raised nor argued before the trial court and yet the trial court had rightly concluded the said point against the accused holding that there was no substantial failure of justice," it said.

"The High Court has, without considering the fact that the point of sanction was neither raised not argued, decided the entire matter solely on the point of sanction and held the trial to be vitiated," it said.

The state government also said that the HC erred in not considering the fact that the accused being aware of the offences for which they were being prosecuted had availed the full opportunity to defend themselves and participated in the trial.

"Neither during the course of the trial nor thereafter during the final arguments the issue of sanction was raised before the trial court," it said.

The state government also contended that the interpretation of Section 45 (1) & 45 (2) of the High Court is incorrect and cannot be sustained in the eyes of law and in the face of the judgments of this court.

"The High Court judgement is contrary to and ignores the statutory scheme under Section 460, 461 & 465 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. The High Court also erred in relying upon the judgements relating to the TADA Act, wherein the statutory scheme is different than that of the UAPA Act. The High Court further erred in not appreciating that the case at hand is not a case of no sanction," it said.

The state government sought stay of the High Court's judgement otherwise it would suffer grave and severe prejudice as the High Court ordered immediate release of all the accused.

[Read Order]

HC judgement acquitting all accused in Maoists link case due to procedural irregularity of absence of sanction under UAPA.

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