Has the Lady Justice unlearned impartiality, or is it our legislation that has been blinded when we talk about the clear injustice in the case of Prof. G.N. Saibaba?
Prof. G.N. Saibaba was arrested by the Nagpur Police in May 2014, on the grounds of apparent plotting against the government and forming of a group. He was convicted because the group goes by the lines of his ideals, which aims at executing a war against the government. An English professor at Ram Lal Anand College, Delhi University, and a physically disabled person, Prof. Saibaba has never stepped back from voicing his thoughts and reacting to injustice even under promising circumstances. The mishandling of the case and unauthorized confiscation of evidence stirred up protests among students and teachers equally. This led to the filing of multiple petitions to ministries and other related authorities. However, despite a series of trials, outrages, and petitions, Prof. Saibaba was sentenced to life imprisonment on 7th March 2017.
On July 21, the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) issued a press release stating its concern regarding Prof. G.N. Saibaba’s health condition and the possible threat to his life. A copy of the petition filed by the NPRD to the National Human Rights Council (NHRC) was attached along with the release. The petition forwarded on 20th July 2020, urged the NHRC to intervene and enable the shifting of Prof. Saibaba from the Nagpur Central Jail to a Medical facility for treatment.
In the purview of the COVID-19 situation and the deteriorating health condition of the professor, NPRD wrote a very strong letter, pressing the NHRC to consider the circumstances. The detailed letter enumerated the professor’s disability and allied ailments, unhealthy living conditions in the jail, legalities that are in his favor, and the rights he has as a citizen and as a person suffering disabilities. Prof. Saibaba has been withstanding disability since childhood as he was affected by polio. He is also suffering from incurable damage to the spine and nervous system which further compromises his health.
In early 2017, he was hospitalized while on bail due to acute pancreatitis which required immediate surgery. Medical records substantiate that both his hands have been paralyzed which is a probable result of injuries caused during his arrest and lack of much-needed treatment in jail. He has been consistently denied access to medical treatment and has been exposed to living conditions that are not satisfactory from any dimension. Moreover, the prison is highly overcrowded and has the presence of inmates who had contracted the coronavirus. The profundity of the hazardous consequences has been deliberately ignored by the authorities despite the filing of several petitions and pleas by the concerned. The solitary confinement that prevents inmates’ support, inaccessible premises, and unhygienic conditions are among the various problems associated.
The NPRD solidifies its 2nd appeal by adding the right of a disabled citizen and the rights the professor could exercise as a citizen of our nation. The petition does not forget to include points from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, UN Conventions on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and UN Resolution 70/175 also knows as Nelson Mandela Rules which inherently emphasizes the right to life with dignity of prisoners.
On a conclusive note, while looking ahead towards the possibility of professor receiving the treatment he requires, we must not forget the labyrinth associated to the case of the pregnant student activist Safoora Zargar and the delirious case of Varavara Rao. It is imperative that we see the repetitive malfeasance that has imbibed no preparatory measures associated with cases that have similar backdrops. However, we hope that the legislation unfolds the blind, and Lady Justice follows impartiality and considers the case of Prof. G. N. Saibaba and grants the justice that he deserves.
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