On Friday, the government opposed Professor GN Saibaba’s bail application at the Bombay High Court. GN Saibaba is a former Delhi University professor who is 90% disabled and wheelchair-bound. The professor is currently imprisoned in the Central Prison, Nagpur (High Security/Anda Cell) under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA)
So far, there are 155 COVID-positive cases at the Nagpur Central Prison, including in the High-Security Cell.
On 7 March 2017, Saibaba was sentenced to life for being associated with the Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), which the state alleged is linked to the banned CPI (Maoist) organisation. Even after 2 years of being undertrial on March 26, 2019, the High Court refused to suspend Saibaba’s sentence. He was convicted and sentenced to life under UAPA by a Sessions Court in Gadhchiroli on March 7, 2017.
Last month, Saibaba had filed a criminal appeal praying for the suspension of his sentence and/or temporary medical bail on account of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Professor Saibaba suffers from multiple ailments, including Sleep Apea, blackouts, Paralytic attacks, chest palpitations, and a cyst in the brain, for which he needs continuous medical attention. Saibaba’s appeal states that if he is held in jail, “there is no way Applicant can be given his treatment, without breaching the lockdown conditions, and exposing escort staff and Applicant to the risk of the infection”. It seeks for him to be released, so that his family can arrange the appropriate medical care as they see fit.
Saibaba’s lawyer had informed the Court that, due to the lock-down, Saibaba’s access to medicines, health check-ups, and referrals to Specialist or tertiary healthcare centers has become restricted. But the government opposed his application, stating that the professor is being kept in a separate cell as a social distancing measure and is being given the necessary medical assistance.
The affidavit filed by the police stated: “Saibaba is an active member of the Naxalite movement and helping them in their cause. If he is released on bail he will again contact naxal persons and he will conspire with Naxal persons and it will send the wrong message to society.”
It begs to reiterate that Prof. GN SaiBaba is 90% disabled and is wheelchair-bound.
Saibaba is one of the many scholars and activists who have recently been denied bail despite having a valid, pressing need for medical attention. His appeal will next be heard on July 28.
First reported by Live Law.