“The first thing we will do is to admit him in a proper hospital as his health has deteriorated in prison,” said former Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba’s wife A.S. Vasantha Kumari after the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on Friday ordered his immediate release from jail.
“Before going to prison, he had strength in both hands but now, he cannot use his left arm and his right arm is partially paralysed as he did not get proper medical care while incarcerated. He needs medical attention to save his life and this verdict was important as it was a life or death situation for him,” Ms. Kumari said. She thanked the judiciary and all those who supported her over the past eight years and said, “We had faith that he would be acquitted because he did not do anything wrong. There was no crime and no evidence.”
Mr. Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound due to 90% physical disability, was serving as an assistant professor at Ram Lal Anand College, Delhi University and was terminated from service by the college in March 2021. He was suspended by the college after his arrest in 2014. In March 2017, a sessions court in Maharashtra had convicted Mr. Saibaba under the stringent Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
‘Jailed for wrong reasons’
Reacting to the High Court verdict, Jenny Rowena, Professor at Miranda House and wife of Hanny Babu a DU professor who has been arrested in the Elgar Parishad case, said, “Now that he is acquitted, that means that he was kept in prison for the wrong reasons. He spent over five years of his life in jail and even lost his job. Who will be punished for doing this to a professor,” Ms. Rowena said.
Issuing a statement welcoming the order, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) said it had been consistently raising the issue of non-provision of “reasonable accommodation” to a prisoner with disability but in spite of repeated appeals by human rights organisations, democratic-minded people and disability rights organisations, Mr. Saibaba was denied bail even on medical grounds. “We hope that with his release he would be able to get adequate medical attention,” the NPRD said.
The CPI(M) Delhi State Committee said the decision of the High Court had once again brought into focus the gross misuse of the UAPA and demanded the release of innocent people who had been imprisoned under the Act. “This draconian law has been invoked to keep hundreds of people, including a large number of critics and opponents of the Modi government, in jail for years on end without trial. The CPI(M) Delhi State Committee demands repeal of the UAPA and other draconian laws,” the statement read.