The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday rejected the bail application of former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, who is serving a life sentence in a prison over charges of allegedly having Maoist links.
A Division Bench of Justices AS Chandurkar and AB Borkar was hearing the application filed by Saibaba seeking suspernsion of sentence and/or temporary medical bail due to COVID-19.
In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra’s Gadchiroli district convicted Saibaba and four others, including a journalist and a Jawaharlal Nehru University student, for Maoist links and engaging in activities amounting to “waging war against the country”.
The court held Saibaba and others guilty under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 read with Section 120 B of Indian Penal Code.
Saibaba, in his plea filed through advocate Nihalsingh Rathod, sought bail for 45 days on medical grounds so that he could get treatment outside and also meet his mother, who is suffering from cancer, in Hyderabad.
He submitted that he was suffering from various life-threatening ailments and was prone to contracting COVID-19 after the outbreak of the disease in the jail. He also said that he was not getting proper medical treatment in jail.
However, special public prosecutor P.K. Sathianathan opposed the bail plea, saying the petitioner was lodged in a separate jail wing where inmates were are not in contact with those lodged in other wings of the prison.
Public Prosecutor argued that since the previous order of the High Court dated March 25, 2019 has not been challenged, it is not open to seek a fresh consideration of the grounds which were available for being urge and considered by this court.
The court was informed that all care and due precaution being taken by the Jail Authorities in the light of the spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 test of the applicant was undertaken and the same was negative. There was no contact between inmates of the wing in which the applicant was kept with the inmates of other wings.
Besides, the petitioner’s brother is taking care of his mother, he said.
“Hence, on all the grounds, be it medical, the pandemic or his mother’s health, he is not entitled to be released on bail,” Sathianathan said.
He also told the court that Saibaba has two attendants round-the-clock and a medical officer is always there to attend to him and provide proper treatment.
The bench noted that the earlier application presented by the applicant under Section 389 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 was considered and rejected. Since this order has not been challenged, it still holds the field, the bench observed.
Citing the reply filed by Chief Medical Officer, Nagpur Central Prison that all requisite precautions are being taken to stop its spread in the jail. Court said-
“Though the applicant suffers from various ailments, in the light of the fact that he has been kept in a separate high security cell and there is no contact/communication between the inmates of the wing in which he is kept with the inmates of the other wings, we do not find any ground made out to release the applicant on temporary bail due to outbreak of the pandemic. While arriving at this conclusion, we have kept in mind the nature of accusations against the applicant, his conviction by the Sessions Court and rejection of his application for suspension of sentence by this Court. As regards worsening medical condition of the applicant as sought to be urged by him, we find that in the application moved by the applicant except for narrating the ailments said to be suffered by him, there are no further details given.”