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Binayak Sen: Institutionalised mechanism needed to oversee court process

From the Hindu:

Civil rights activist Binayak Sen favoured an institutionalised mechanism to oversee the process conducted in local courts even in routine cases.

Mr. Sen claimed there was absolutely a “total disjunction” between the evidence recorded and the judgement delivered by a Chhattisgarh court which convicted him on charges of sedition.

He was later released on bail by the Supreme Court.

“I wish possibilities of developing some form of institutionalised public oversight of process conducted in courts in routine cases of IPC can be discussed,” he said addressing a function here.

Sen said he was fortunate to have the support of so many friends inside and outside the country in his fight. “I am not alone in this sense. I am also not alone as thousands and thousands across the country are in same condition of incarceration which I myself found in,” he said.

Most of the people were not getting effective judicial recourse, he felt.

Sen, who works in rural areas of Chhatisgarh, said it is being propounded that it is legitimate to dispossess poor people of their access to common property resources like water, land and forest.

“Vast majority of poor people depend on natural resources for their survival. How the Indian nation advises these people to ensure their survival and how should they respond to this (efforts to dispossess them). These are the puzzling questions, answers to which we will have to find,” he said.

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Binayak Sen criticises judiciary, government on social issues

New Delhi, Sat, 07 May 2011 ANI

New Delhi, May 7 (ANI): Nearly a month after the Supreme Court granted him bail, Maoist sympathiser and medical practitioner Binayak Sen on Saturday criticised the country’s lower judiciary for allegedly twisting the legal framework to convict him on sedition charges.

In December 2010, a sessions court in Chhattisgarh had sentenced Dr. Sen to life imprisonment for his alleged links with Maoists.

The international community raised a hue and cry over his undemocratic incarcerationi.

However, on April 15, the Supreme Court granted bail to Sen, observing that he might be a sympathiser of the Maoist cause, but that does not prove him guilty of sedition.

Revealing details of his trial while addressing a gathering of mediapersons, activists and civil society members here, Sen said there had been a disjunction between the evidence recorded in his case and the verdict delivered by the lower court.
“More than 95 witnesses were called to the court. Their examination was conducted, their cross-examination was conducted and duly recorded by the court. In the judgment, not a single reference to any of the points of cross examination and to most of the evidence provided by the witnesses, it was totally ignored in the process of convicting me of the laws which I was supposed to have contravened,” said Sen.

In 2007, Sen was arrested in Raipur on accusation that he had passed on notes from an imprisoned Maoist leader he was treating.
Sen had then denied any wrongdoing.

Questioning why he was charged under sedition without supporting evidence, he asserted that there were many other activists who were suffering from judicial ‘injustice.
“There was no evidence, there was no foundation for a case of sedition against me, it is what the Supreme Court said. This did not prevent the trial court from giving me life sentence in the process of convicting me under the sedition law and under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. This is the situation of so many other people in Chhattisgarh as well as in the other states today,” said Sen.

Sixty-year-old Sen, who has won international acclaim for running health clinics for villagers in the tribal regions, is a vocal critic of the government’s policies against the Maoists.

Lashing out at the Central Government, Sen said: “Poorer people, in our country, are facing a situation of famine, a chronic situation of famine. 37 percent of the adult Indian population has a body mass index of below 18.5 which denotes chronic under nutrition. If we disaggregate it, then we find that the scheduled tribes, more than 50 percent of the population, have a body mass index below 18.5. Scheduled castes, more than 60 percent of the population, has a body mass index of below 18.5.”

“This thesis is being propounded, that it is legitimate, to dispossess poor people from their access to common property resources and ensuring their own survival. It is legitimate as a strategy, to ensure the development of the country,” he added. (ANI)