The Chhattisgarh High Court on Thursday dismissed an application of rights activist and paediatrician Dr. Binayak Sen seeking bail and suspension of life term awarded to him. But the court will continue to hear his appeal against the life sentence handed down by a Raipur Additional District and Sessions Court.

The court also dismissed a similar application of co-accused Kolkata businessman Pijush Guha.

On December 24 last, the Raipur court convicted Dr. Sen, Guha, and alleged Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal of conspiring to commit sedition and sentenced them to life imprisonment.

Dr. Sen was arrested in May 2007 on the suspicion that he served as a courier for Sanyal. Prison records indicate that Dr. Sen visited Sanyal several times in the Raipur Jail. Dr. Sen maintained that the visits were in his capacity as a doctor and as the Chhattisgarh Secretary of the People's Union for Civil Liberties.

Dr. Sen's wife Dr. Ilina Sen, expressing disappointment at the court verdict, felt there were fair grounds for bail. “We shall file a special leave petition in the Supreme Court as soon as possible.”

Defence lawyer Mahendra Dubey said: “The court observed that since the bail application was filed under Section 389 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, no detailed consideration of evidence was possible at this stage.”

Prosecutor Kishore Bhaduri said the court probably relied on the contents of Dr. Sen's computer that was seized by the police. Mr. Bhaduri believes that the documents indicated that Dr. Sen was a supporter of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist).

“It appears that the court has relied on the prosecution's argument of culpability by association,” said Ramesh Gopalakrishnan of Amnesty International, adding he was yet to read the 34-page judgment. “The prosecution's argument was based on thin evidence and did not establish the chain of events from Dr. Sen's association with Narayan Sanyal to any actual acts of violence,” he said.