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Binayak Sen: Travesty of a Trial

People’s Democracy, January 02, 2011

THE verdict sentencing Binayak Sen, a doctor and public health specialist, to life imprisonment by an additional sessions court judge in Chattisgarh is shocking and a grave miscarriage of justice.

Binayak Sen has been found guilty of sedition under the relevant clauses of the Indian Penal Code, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act.

The evidence presented at the trail by the prosecution was so flimsy and concocted that it is surprising that such a judicial verdict has been given. The verdict draws attention to the dangers attendant in having draconian provisions in laws like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). When the amendments were brought to the UAPA in parliament after the Mumbai terrorist attack, the CPI(M) had pointed out how some of the draconian provisions would be liable to misuse. Denial of bail for a prolonged period is one of them.

The BJP government of Chhattisgarh has been, in the name of fighting the Maoists, trampling on the democratic rights of citizens. The state government had promoted the Salva Judam which led to one lakh adivasis being uprooted from their homes and herded into camps. Some of the media who highlighted the excesses in the state were threatened.

The Maoists are resorting to large-scale violence and killings in the state. They need to be fought and countered, and the police forces have been deployed for that purpose in Dantewada and other places. The Maoists who are perpetrating violence, when they are apprehended, must be tried by law. But the BJP government and the police authorities cannot be given the license to brazenly violate the rights of the citizens. The Binayak Sen case needs to be reviewed by the higher judiciary expeditiously. The travesty of justice perpetrated by the trial needs to be corrected.