The Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court on Tuesday, rejected a plea for “emergency parole” by G N Saibaba, former Delhi University professor, to meet his family and attend his mother’s post-funeral rites.
The bench, comprising Justice Zaka Haq and Justice Avinash Gharote, however, directed the authorities to arrange for him to talk to his family in Hyderabad through videoconferencing.
The High Court has twice rejected Saibaba’s bail plea, once filed on the ground of health, and then on the grounds to meet his ailing mother and the spread of Covid-19 in Nagpur Central Prison.
His lawyer, Mihir Desai, argued that Saibaba deserved the parole to be able to meet his “grief-stricken” family and to attend his mother’s post-funeral rites, and is willing to deposit requisite charges.
Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) Prashant Sathianathan argued that Saibaba is convicted under the UAPA and the “findings recorded by the court show seriousness of the crime in which the petitioner was involved”.
In its order, the court said, “The communication sent by the Superintendent, Nagpur Central Prison, to the SPP says Saibaba is placed inside a high-security cell in a separate wing and looking at the background of the petitioner, it would not be safe to direct release of the petitioner on emergency parole.”
The SPP argued that the police are already under stress and overworked due to the pandemic and the “luxury” claimed by the petitioner for escorting him to Hyderabad cannot be considered.
“Be that as it may, we find that the mother of the petitioner died on August 1 and almost all necessary rituals might have been over by now… the submission made on behalf of the petitioner that due to grief… at least 15-day parole would be sufficient… is clearly not borne out,” Sathianathan said.
The SPP further said, “In the present situation, considering condition and age of the petitioner, any travel would be unadvisable and, as observed above, all medical help is available to the petitioner in the prison. In fact, it would be in the interest of the petitioner to not undertake any travel.”
The bench said, “In the background of the submission on behalf of the respondents, we are not convinced to grant this prayer…”
The court, however, said, “Any solace which the petitioner may be in need of, which according to him can be ameliorated by the company of his family members, can be addressed by arranging a meeting through videoconferencing.”
The bench further stated, “The respondents are directed to permit the petitioner to contact his family members through videoconferencing on any specified date between 10 am and 4 pm.”