New Delhi: A day after the Nagpur bench of the Bombay High Court rejected the bail plea of Delhi University professor G.N. Saibaba, activists including senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan on Thursday condemned the order, terming it a blot on the history of the judiciary.
Cancelling Saibaba's interim bail, the single judge bench of Justice A.B. Chaudhari directed him to surrender in two days. Maharashtra Police had arrested Saibaba for his alleged Maoist links in May 2014.
Addressing a press conference organised by the 'Committee for the Defense and release of Dr. G.N. Saibaba', Bhushan said rejection of the bail plea underlined the need for judicial accountability in the country.
Calling the judgment a "product of a prejudiced mind", Bhushan said it shows the insensitiveness and lack of understanding of the judiciary.
"A person can be denied bail only under certain circumstances. Being a 90 percent disabled person, Saibaba doesn't pose any threat to the country. What is the need to cancel his interim bail and put him behind bars in 48 hours?" asked Bhushan, adding that the order reeked of vindictiveness and vendetta.
He expressed the hope that the Supreme Court will reverse the order.
"We will take the case to the Supreme Court and hope it will reverse the order," said Bhushan.
The Nagpur bench on Wednesday dismissed Saibaba's interim bail order issued by the Bombay High Court on May 30, which granted him interim relief till December 31 to avail of treatment for his serious medical condition. It directed Saibaba to surrender at the Nagpur Central Jail.
The court also ordered proceedings for criminal contempt to be initiated against author Arundhati Roy for her article titled "Professor, POW" on Saibaba's arrest that was published in Outlook magazine on May 18, 2015.
Observing that Roy made scandalous observations against the central, state governments and police in her article, the court issued notice to her for contempt of court.
Narrating Saibaba's ordeal in prison, his wife Vasanta said the judiciary has failed them with the order.
Saibaba's health has deteriorated in jail, and one of his hands has become immobile, she said.
"Don't they have heart to send a 90 percent disabled person to jail again in 48 hours? He needs help to wear a shirt. He is undergoing medical treatment daily. How can they simply say that his health is still the same," she asked.
Vasanta said the prison lacked basic facilities for a disabled person and he is being kept in an 'anda cell'.
"They don't even have a disabled friendly toilet," she said.
On the occasion, academician and civil rights activist Manoranjan Mohanty said the cancellation of bail and pulling up of Arundhati Roy shows the growing intolerance of the judiciary.
He said the timing of the order also raises suspicions as the Supreme Court is closed for its winter vacation.
Urging civil society to defend constitutional rights, Mohanty said he was astonished by the way the judge went about picking on Roy for her article.
"The intolerance of the higher judiciary of the voice of dissent has reached its peak when it ordered proceedings of criminal contempt of court against Arundhati Roy," he said.
Rights activists Manisha Sethi and Moushumi Basu also spoke on the occasion.