Delhi University professor G N Saibaba and five others, convicted by the Gadchiroli district and sessions court last month for having links with Naxalites, have challenged the verdict before the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court. A plea was filed by them before a bench comprising Justice Bhushan Dharmadikari and Justice Vinay Deshpande on Monday. It is likely to come up for hearing on April 5.
While Saibaba, Prashant Rahi, Hem Mishra, Mahesh Tirki and Pandu Narote were sentenced to life imprisonment, Vijay Tirki was handed 10 years’ rigorous imprisonment by district and sessions judge S S Shinde on March 7. The conviction was made under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. The prosecution had relied heavily on “electronic evidence”, claiming an electronic chip, hard disks and pen drives recovered from the accused proved their Naxal links.
The convicts’ lawyer Surendra Gadling said, “We have challenged the lower court’s verdict on the premise that the prosecution failed to prove its story, the court put the burden of evidence on the accused, the punch witnesses were tutored and managed and they were, in fact, stock witnesses.”