GN Saibaba released from Nagpur jail after being acquitted in Maoist links case

Former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba was released from Nagpur Central Jail on Thursday, two days after the Bombay High Court acquitted him and five others in a case about them allegedly having links with Maoists, ANI reported.

Saibaba was first arrested in the case in May 2014 but was granted bail twice. He had been lodged in the Nagpur Central Jail since a sessions court convicted him on March 7, 2017.

On Tuesday, the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court acquitted Saibaba, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirkey, Vijay Tirkey, Narayan Sanglikar, Prashant Rahi and Pandu Narote. Narote died in prison on August 26, 2022, due to swine flu.

In its judgement, the High Court said that accessing content about Communist or Naxalite philosophy, including videos of a violent nature, was not inherently illegal unless there is evidence linking the accused to specific acts of violence or terrorism.

“No evidence has been led by the prosecution by any witness to any incident, attack, act of violence or even evidence collected from some earlier scene of offence where a terrorist act has taken place, in order to connect the accused to such act, either by participating in its preparation or its direction or in any manner providing support to its commission,” said the court.

The High Court set aside the judgement of a sessions court that had convicted the accused persons in 2017.

Hours later, the court dismissed the Maharashtra government’s application seeking a six-week stay on the acquittal of Saibaba and the five others. The state government has approached the Supreme Court, challenging the acquittal.

Wheelchair-bound Saibaba, who is 90% disabled, was convicted by the trial court in 2017 for allegedly having links to the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) and a frontal organisation, the Revolutionary Democratic Front. He had been sentenced to life imprisonment.

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