Binayak Sen gets bail at last, family relieved (Roundup)May 25th, 2009 - 6:29 pm ICT by IANS
New Delhi/Raipur, May 25 (IANS) It was a day to remember for Indian rights activists, civil society and, of course, his family as the iconic Binayak Sen was Monday granted bail by the Supreme Court after being held for more than two years under unproven charges of links with Maoists in Chhattisgarh.
Binayak Sen, 59, an award-winning paediatrician and national vice-president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), was jailed May 14, 2007, and accused of acting as a courier for an alleged Maoist lodged in jail - making his family, friends and many admirers cry out for justice.
“I am extremely relieved that this ordeal of two years has finally ended. The judiciary has stood up for what is correct. He was held on trumped up charges,” his wife Ilina Sen told IANS in Raipur.
A Supreme Court vacation bench of Justice Markandey Katju and Justice Deepak Verma granted him bail even as voices for his release have grown louder.
“This is good news, but it is delayed by two years. Justice should have been done by granting him bail two years ago,” said Rajendra K. Sail, president of the Chhattisgarh PUCL.
Binayak Sen had been lodged at the Raipur Central Jail under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.
Former law minister Shanti Bhushan, appearing for Sen, had earlier pleaded with the court to accord an urgent hearing to the bail plea in view of his precarious health condition.
His wife Ilina and daughter Pranhita flew in to Raipur from Mumbai as soon as the news of the court order came.
When asked if her husband would continue working for public health in tribal areas of Chhattisgarh, Ilina said: “I know that the health services that he was providing have suffered in the last two years. But at the moment I am waiting for him to be released and want him to recover from his health problems.”
“I am overwhelmed at the decision of the Supreme Court and we thank people of the country, especially journalists, who have supported us in our fight,” said his brother Dipankar Sen.
Dipankar, a trader in the commodities market in Antwerp, Belgium, is currently in India and has been fighting for his brother’s freedom.
The state’s government has kept silent over the apex court’s decision. Earlier, it had even opposed Sen’s plea to be treated at his alma mater, the famous Christian Medical College in Vellore, Tamil Nadu.
Gautam Kumar Bandyopadhyay, a rights activist and convenor of NGO Nadi Ghati Morcha, described Binayak Sen’s bail as a “victory of human rights” in Chhattisgarh.
“It’s the victory of human rights in the state. Sen’s bail is a blow to the state’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, which is targeting people who try and raise (their voice) against human rights violations in Chhattisgarh.”
On May 4, former law minister Ram Jethmalani, appearing for Binayak Sen, had contended that despite the case against him having been demolished in a trial court, the Chhattisgarh High Court was not entertaining his bail plea.
Sen’s younger daughter Aparajita, who is in Delhi, said she cannot wait for the “scattered family” of four to be united. A Class 12 student in Mumbai, she was in the capital Monday for a National School of Drama workshop.
“My mother, sister and I have spent the last two years in struggle and hoping…it was painful living without my father and knowing he was in jail,” she sighed.
“The family will finally be united,” she said.