ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Contempt of Justice

The shocking judgment against Binayak Sen and others should lead to a reform of our anachronistic laws.

The conviction of Binayak Sen, Piyush Guha and Narayan Sanyal for treason, sedition and helping a banned organisation has shocked almost all observers, whether in the country or outside. Apart from the severity, awarding life in prison for the actual charges of couriering letters between functionaries of a banned organisation and for holding literature of that body, the entire process of arresting, accusing and trial has been marred by gross flaws. In all, the trial and the sentencing are an outrage on India’s legal process and need a quick and thorough remedy.

Of the three accused, Narayan Sanyal, who has been termed a “Maoist ideologue”, may have clear links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist). There are reports that he is a member of their politburo, but the specific charges against him are so clearly fabricated and entwined in contradictions that they cannot stand up to any scrutiny, far less a thorough judicial one. Reading sessions court judge B P Verma’s judgment, it appears that all the failings of the evidence were trumped by the fact that Sanyal is a leader of the Maoists. This itself is bad under the law and is clearly a misuse of the judicial system to fight political battles. The other accused Piyush Guha’s case stands on even flimsier ground. All he can be accused of is couriering three letters from Sanyal to unknown people. The letters themselves contain nothing incriminatory. However, the police have tied themselves up in knots about when and where they arrested him and between their submission to the trial court and to the Supreme Court in 2009, the Chhattisgarh police have either committed perjury or wilfully given wrong evidence to the court. Either way, this fake evidence, even if accepted, does not support the charges, far less the sentence pronounced.

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