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SC notice to Chhattisgarh Govt. on Binayak Sen's bail plea

Friday March 11, 2011 07:12:17 PM, IANS

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday issued notice to the Chhattisgarh government on a petition of human rights activist Binayak Sen for bail following life imprisonment awarded to him by the trial court for sedition and waging war against the state.

The apex court bench of Justice H.S.Bedi and Justice C.K.Prasad issued the notice even as the counsel for Sen sought time till Monday so that senior counsel Ram Jethmalani could argue the case. Counsel Atul Jha was present for the Chhatisgarh government.

The notice is returnable in four weeks.

Sen was convicted by the additional session judge of Raipur Dec 24, 2010, for waging war against the state, entering into criminal conspiracy and sedition. The Chhatisgarh High Court Feb 10 rejected Sen's plea seeking the suspension of sentence and bail during the pendency of his appeal.

In his petition, Sen said that though the high court has not granted him bail, the apex court by its order May 25, 2009, had granted it though he was facing trial on the charges of waging war against the state.

He contended that he is being held responsible for escalating violence in Chhatisgarh while there is not even one instance of violence against him. He argued that he could not be hauled up for the acts of others by slapping him with charges of conspiracy.

The petition said that the presumption of innocence in favour of the accused does not cease once an order of conviction is passed by the court of first instance (trial court) and continues till the apex court pronounces its verdict.

He said that he could not be charged of aiding an unlawful organisation merely because he has helped someone in getting employment or an accommodation.

Accused of being a courier for and conduit of Maoist activities, Sen was arrested May 14, 2007, at Bilaspur. The allegation against Sen was based on the statement of Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha who told police that he was given three letters by Sen to be delivered at Kolkata. These letters were given to Sen by Narayan Sanyal, who has been described as a "hardcore naxalite (Maoist) and member of a banned organisation".

Sen visited Sanyal 33 times from May 25, 2006, to March 30, 2007. He said all these visits were legitimate and were after obtaining due permission from the competent authorities.

In its judgment, the high court said Sen is closely associated Sanyal and other alleged hardcore Maoists like Shankar Singh, Amita Shrivastava and Mali alias K.S.Priya, who are hiding after the arrest of Sen and Guha.

The high court had held that in the case of "conspiracy, direct evidence would not be possible and the court is required to consider circumstantial evidence and the circumstances exist in this case which lead to irresistible inference that the appellants (Sen and Piyush) along with unlawful organisations were at the consensus ad idem with respect to their aforesaid acts shown to have been done against the government..."






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