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Dr. Binayak Sen Update 19.11.2007

Supreme Court

Dr. Binayak Sen’s bail petition came up in the Supreme Court today. The counsel of the state of Chhattisgarh asked for one week’s time to file their reply. The same was granted by the court. Hence we expect that once the reply is filed, our lawyers would need another two days to file the rejoinder. After that the matter should come up for hearing before the court within a week.

Raipur Sessions Court

The last time that Dr. Binayak Sen’s case had come up before the Sessions Court, two issues had arisen:

1. Binayak was not produced. The prosecution argued that they were short of security personnel and therefore he would not be produced and instead video conferencing would be done between the jail and the court. The defence lawyer protested. Dr. Binayak Sen too protested since he was unable to see his lawyer and was unable to instruct him.

2. The prosecution was holding on to the DVD that constitutes the copy of the hard disk of the computer that was seized by the police from Dr. Sen’s house. The same had not been passed on to the defence. Also the prosecution had kept the possibility open that they could bring further charges on the basis of the contents of the DVD. The defence demanded a copy of the DVD since its lack would prevent the preparation of a proper defence. In order to get out of providing a copy, the prosecution argued that the DVD constituted “property” and therefore a copy did not need to be provided. The court however directed the prosecution to provide a copy of the DVD to the defence.

The matter came up before the Sessions Court this time on 16 November.

First, Dr. Binayak Sen was again not produced. And there was no video conferencing either. The jail authorities had not paid the bills of the service provider! Jokes apart, this denial is serious. Court dates are the few times that a prisoner is able to come outside the prison walls. These are also the only times that the prisoner is able to speak to the judge and the judge is able to see the prisoner. Jail is the custody of the court, where the only thing that the prisoner is supposed to lose is freedom, not basic human dignity. The judge who sends a person to a jail is supposed to ensure this through periodic meeting with the person incarcerated. The use of science to convert the jail into a modern dungeon needs to be fought.

Second, the DVD was not made available to the defence. This time the prosecution brought the specious alibi that over time, the DVD copy becomes faint. Therefore they need to provide a paper copy of the contents. Since that would take substantial time, they want the court to allow them further delay. Despite the defence argued that they were happy to get a copy of the DVD itself and that they can take the printouts themselves. The court finally gave the prosecution upto 22 November to provide a copy of the DVD and also the printouts if they so wish. The matter would now be heard on 22 November.

Both at the Supreme Court as well as the Sessions Court the attempt of the prosecution has been to delay hearing. And in this they have been quite successful.