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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Cong hedges,NAC comes out: Binayak verdict is a disgrace

Crime,says Jean Dreze; judiciary not above political influence: Mander.

Written by Amitabh Sinha
New Delhi | December 26, 2010 2:42:55 am

The Congress may have been guarded in its response to the sentencing of Binayak Sen to life imprisonment on charges of sedition but key members of the powerful Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council have lambasted the Chhattisgarh trial court ruling calling it a “crime,” a “disgrace” to democracy,a politically motivated “kangaroo trial”.Yesterday,the Second Additional District and Sessions Judge B P Varma held Sen guilty of sedition and sentenced him to life in prison.“At present,the way the terrorists and Naxalite organisations are killing central paramilitary forces,state police and innocent tribals and unleashing terror across the country,spreading fear and chaos in the society,this court cannot be so generous to the accused as to give them minimum sentence under the law,” observed the judge in his 97-page order in Hindi. A brief operative part of the order was released today but the full copy is yet to be made available.“I am very distressed. I have known him (Sen) for 25 years and cannot believe the charges pressed against him. The evidence (against Sen) is very weak and the trial was a farce. We stand by him and his family. I have no doubt that the police and the judiciary are not above the influence of political objectives,” said NAC member Harsh Mander. Mander is key to the NAC’s food security initiatives and is also a Supreme Court-appointed Commissioner to monitor food programmes.His colleague in the panel,economist and activist

Jean Dreze said the conviction of Sen was the result of a “kangaroo trial”.

“I have know Dr Binayak Sen personally for many years and he is one of the most gentle and caring human beings I have met. I have also seen at close quarters how the government of Chhattisgarh targets and harasses its critics with horrendous brutality. In a functioning democracy,the Chhattisgarh administration would be tried for human rights violations and Dr Sen’s work would receive due recognition. His conviction to life imprisonment after a kangaroo trial is a disgrace and a crime,” said Dreze.

Yesterday,Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi said it was wrong to dismiss the judgment before the legal process had been completed. “A decision has been taken after a trial of two years. An appeal has also been filed and as long as the matter does not come to a full end,it is wrong to dismiss the judgment… we are not a banana republic,” Singhvi had said.

But NAC member Deep Joshi,who runs Pradan,an NGO “promoting rural livelihoods”,today said the trial court order was a very bad advertisement for Indian democracy and brought back memories of colonial times. “From what I have read,it seems like a terrible judgment. Somebody who has given his whole life to work for tribal people being prosecuted like this. We are not a British colony any more. What kind of democracy we are in? If it had happened in pre-1947 India,we could have understood. This certainly does not belong to this period. It is a sad judgment. I am sure a higher court will turn it down.”

Another NAC member N C Saxena,former Secretary,Planning Commission,said he was unable to make sense of the trial court decision. “I have heard from several very honourable people that he (Sen) is an extremely upright person and innocent of the crimes he has been accused of. I do not know the facts on which the court has awarded life imprisonment for him but it seems to be a highly unfortunate decision,” he said.

Rajya Sabha MP and NAC member Ram Dayal Munda said it was very hard to believe that someone like Sen had been convicted of sedition. “I am not able to believe this. I do not know what to say,” he said.

Ecological scientist Madhav Gadgil,when contacted,said he was yet to study and “understand the facts” and that’s why “I will withhold my opinion”.

“At present,the way the terrorists and Naxalite organizations are killing central paramilitary forces,state police and innocent tribals and unleashing terror across the country,spreading fear and chaos in the society,this court cannot be so generous to the accused as to give them minimum sentence under the law”,observed Second Additional District and Sessions judge B P Varma in his 97-page order in Hindi. A brief operative part of the order was released today but the full copy is yet to be made available. with ENS,Raipur

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