The Supreme Court on Monday granted bail and suspended the life sentence of CPI (Maoist) activist Narayan Sanyal, who was held guilty of committing sedition, along with civil rights activist Binayak Sen, by a court in Chhattisgarh in 2010.
A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhayay ordered the release of 78-year-old Sanyal, considering his age, and the fact that he has already spent more than six years in jail, since his arrest in 2006.
“Keeping in view the age of Sanyal, who is 78 years old, and has been in jail for more than six years, we are granting him bail. Accordingly, his sentence will also remain suspended,” the Bench said, asking him to furnish a personal bond of Rs. 1 lakh before the trial court, which would impose some other conditions to its satisfaction for his release.
Mr. Sanyal was convicted along with Mr. Sen, and a Kolkata-based businessman, Piyush Guha, for colluding with the Maoists in expanding their network to fight the State.
Mr. Sen was granted bail and his sentence was suspended by the apex court on April 15 last year.
Chhattisgarh's counsel Mukul Rohatgi and Atul Jha opposed Mr. Sanyal's bail plea, saying his case was different, and the charges against him were graver as he was involved in cases of jailbreaks in some other States, including Jharkhand and Bihar.
‘Cry not heard'
Interrupting them, the Bench said: “We don't want to enter into a discussion, but a day will come when the court will examine the expenditure made by the State in urban and tribal areas — how tribals have been cheated for more than 65 years; how their rights have been violated. The cry of the poor hasn't been heard. The response isn't adequate for them. Exploited, they take the law into their own hands,” it said.
The Bench made the remarks when Chhattisgarh counsel was making submissions in reply to a question.
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan opposed the State government's contentions, and said the court should consider the age of Mr. Sanyal.
Mr. Sanyal, along with Mr. Sen and Mr. Guha, was held guilty by a Raipur court on December 24, 2010, of sedition and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code, as well as offences under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
The three were also found guilty under the provisions of the Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act, and sentenced to a five-year jail term. Sanyal was also awarded 10 years' imprisonment, for being a member of a terrorist outfit in violation of the UAP Act.
All three had moved the Chhattisgarh High Court against their conviction, and their appeals are still pending there.