Court rejects Binayak Sen bail plea, activists disappointed (Third Lead)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

BILASPUR - The Chhattisgarh High Court Thursday rejected the bail application of human rights activist Binayak Sen, who has been sentenced to a life term for sedition and his links with the Maoists.

The division bench of Justice T.P. Sharma and Justice R.L. Jhanwar pronounced the judgment in a jam-packed court room here, some 110 km from state capital Raipur.

Sen’s family and supporters termed the decision “disappointing” and vowed to appeal to the Supreme Court.

Sen is at present lodged in a central jail in Raipur after he was sentenced to life term by a trial court in Raipur on Dec 24 for sedition and for his links with Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal. The court had also awarded life term to Sanyal and a Kolkata-based businessman Piyush Guha. Sen was basically accused of acting as a courier between Sanyal and Guha.

“The high court has largely agreed with my argument in its 20-page judgment that Sen has strong links to Maoists. I am happy that the court dismissed the bail application,” prosecution counsel and additional advocate general Kishore Bhaduri, who appeared on behalf of Chhattisgarh government, told reporters.

The trial court verdict that sent Sen, 61, to a life term was widely slammed by human right activists in India and abroad, who say he was victimised by Chhattisgarhs Bharatiya Janata Party government for highlighting human rights abuses.

Sens wife Ilina Sen termed the court decision “very disappointing”.

“Its very disappointing but I am not going to stop now, will approach Supreme Court because I have no other options,” Ilina told IANS in her initial reaction.

Noted social activist Swami Agnivesh termed the high court ruling “extremely sad”.

Agnivesh, who is presently in Chhattisgarhs restive Bastar region, told reporters: “I was not expecting such a sad decision. Sen is a great social worker, I am really pained.”

Rajendra K. Sail, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) former Chhattisgarh state president, said: “Its highly unfortunate, I was expecting justice from high court at least but here too I was stunned.” He said that right activists will now fight the case afresh in Supreme Court.

Meanwhile, Brijmohan Agrawal, a senior minister in state government, welcomed the high court judgment and described it as “a vindication of the state government’s stand on Binayak Sen”.

“Now when the high court has dismissed the bail application, it is better for so-called human rights activists in India and abroad to keep away attacking Chhattisgarh government and the state police,” he said, adding that “the court verdict has again exposed the real face of Sen”.

Two women representatives of the European Union had attended the hearing on all three days - Jan 24 and 25 and Feb 9.

Eminent lawyer Ram Jethmalani had opened the arguments for Sen Jan 24, terming the Dec 24 trial court verdict “a case of no evidence” and “political prosecution” in his over two-hour-long submission.

Another lawyer, Surendra Singh, who argued in favour of Sen Jan 25, told the bench that “documents were planted by Chhattisgarh Police to establish some connection of Sen with the Maoists”.

The division bench had reserved its order till Thursday after Bhaduri wrapped up his arguments, saying “the seized documents and other evidence were sufficient for not suspending the sentence awarded to Sen by the trial court”.

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