‘In our stupidity we believed the judicial process would be fair'
Criticising the judgment of a Raipur Additional Sessions and District Court — which sentenced eminent doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen to life imprisonment on December 24 on grounds of sedition and entering into a criminal conspiracy — his wife Ilina Sen on Monday said her faith in the judiciary had been shattered.
At a press conference at the Press Club of India here, Professor Sen said she now regretted ignoring the advice given by the couple's well-wishers to seek the shifting of the trial out of Chhattisgarh.
“I am in a state of complete shock…in our stupidity we believed the judicial process would be fair,” she said.
Professor Sen said that though the judgment indicted Dr. Sen of criminal conspiracy, the “real conspiracy” happened elsewhere.
Dr. Sen, she said, was arrested after he started talking about the Salwa Judum, the signing of MoUs to tap the mineral wealth of Chhattisgarh, and the forced rehabilitation of tribals.
“The allegation that Dr. Sen couriered letters for Narayan Sanyal was proved baseless after the two jailors said he had met Sanyal under supervision. The charge that Dr. Sen passed on the letters to Pijush Guha at a hotel has been rubbished after the hotel managers said they have never seen Dr. Sen,” she added.
Professor Sen said the letter (A-37) from Sanyal, which the police claimed was found in a raid at Dr. Sen's house, was planted among the rest of the evidence.
“This letter did not have either Dr. Sen's or the investigating officer's signature. The judge should have dismissed the charge just on that ground. When all the other letters seized had Dr. Sen's and the officer's signatures, how was that one not signed?” she said.
Professor Sen noted that the police did not take away the seized materials in sealed envelopes, raising the possibility of “plants” being made at a later stage, a scenario which the judge refused to consider.
She alleged that Dr. Sen was being treated worse than caged animals in zoos, as the “cells in the maximum security cell he is placed in are merely five iron cages in a large courtyard.”
Advocate Prashant Bhushan said: “The letters that Dr. Sen allegedly couriered, on which the charges against him were based, do not contain any conspiracy to commit crime or violence, but are routine letters written by somebody in prison. No acceptable, legally tenable evidence exists to back up this charge. Even if there is evidence, does it warrant life imprisonment?”
Commenting on the charge that Dr. Sen committed sedition, Mr. Bhushan said that in the Kedar Nath Singh vs. State of Bihar case (1962), the Supreme Court ruled that the provision in the Indian Penal Code (124(a)) was of the pre-Constitution era, and that the sedition provision infringed on the individual's right to freedom of speech and expression.
“The Supreme Court had ruled that if and only if there is incitement to violence and public disorder, will the charge of sedition be said to be complete. The Raipur judge completely disregarded this important judgement in Dr. Sen's case,” Mr. Bhushan said.