SC asks trial court for daily hearings in Saibaba’s case

New Delhi, Feb 29 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday asked a Maharashtra court to hold daily hearings into the trial of Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba from March 4 so as to record the statements of eight material witnesses within a month.

Saibaba has been accused of links with Revolutionary Democrats Front – an alleged front organisation of the banned Communist Party of India-Maoist.

Directing the trial court to “positively” record the statements of eight material witnesses, an apex court bench of Justice Jagdish Singh Khehar and Justice C. Nagappan said: “At the present moment, we consider it just and appropriate to direct the trial court to hold day-to-day trial with effect from March 4, 2016, so as to record the statements of all material witnesses.”

Directing the listing of the matter before it on April 4, the court said, “The statements of the material witnesses be positively concluded before the next date of hearing.”

The apex court also recorded the names of eight witnesses: Shrikant Pochreddi Gaddewar, Ravindra Manohar Kumbhare, Ramesh K. Yede, Raju Poriya Atram, Atul Shantaram Avhad, Suhas Prakash Bawche, N.G. Vyas (JMFC, Aheri) and Apekha Ramteke.

The court order for day-to-day proceedings came as senior counsel R.S. Cheema, appearing for Saibaba, told the court that the arrested Delhi University professor was 90 percent physically incapacitated and there was also a controversy over his client’s life-threatening ailment.

As the bench said this view was not endorsed by the prosecution, Cheema took the court through the medical records of Saibaba to buttress his point.

In a related matter, involving summoning of author turned social activist Arundhati Roy in a contempt plea, the court said it would hear the matter on July 12, 2016.

Roy was issued notice by the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on a contempt plea by a lawyer who alleged that Roy’s article in an English magazine was “interference in the administration of justice”.

Roy in her article wrote, “So afraid is the government of this paralysed wheelchair-bound academic that the Maharashtra Police had to abduct him for arrest”.

Saibaba was arrested by Maharashtra Police in May 2015 for alleged Maoist links. He challenged the December 23, 2015, order of the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court rejecting his plea for regular bail.

Rejecting the bail plea, the high court’s Nagpur bench said: “There is a prima facie case against the applicant based on strong evidence and in fact, the applicant, who is an intellectual, has used his intelligentsia for anti-national activities for which there is strong evidence against him as discussed and, therefore, the case of the applicant cannot be considered on the ground of parity.”

Saibaba was released on interim bail on health grounds by the Bombay High Court which treated as a public interest litigation an email based on a newspaper report on his failing health condition.

Saibaba suffers from 90 percent disability due to post-polio paralysis.

The interim bail was extended till December 31 as the court asked him to approach the Nagpur bench for regular bail. The other accused in the case had already been granted bail.

However, when Saibaba moved for regular bail, the application was rejected on December 23. He was asked to surrender at the Nagpur Central Jail within two days.

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