Binayak case: HC allows EU team, Jethmalani appears for Sen

Bilaspur, Jan 24 (PTI) A delegation of European Unionobservers was today allowed by the Chhattisgrah High Court towitness proceedings on rights activist Binayak Sen''s appealagainst his life term in a sedition case, which his lawyer andBJP MP Ram Jethmalani termed as "political persecution".

When Sen''s appeal came up for hearing, a division benchcomprising justices T P Sharma and R L Jhanwar, considered thereference on the EU proposal made to it by the stategovernment and decided to allow the eight-member team toattend the proceedings.

The request of the EU to be present in the court hadearlier been sent by the External Affairs Ministry to theChhattisgarh government, which had in turn, referred thematter to the High Court.

Appearing for 61-year-old Sen, who has been sentenced by asessions court to life imprisonment for colluding with Maoiststo establish a network to fight the state, Jethmalani told theHigh Court, "My client is absolutely innocent. There is nocase.

"The whole case is nothing but political persecution andlegally it is a case of no evidence, not merely bad evidence,but no evidence," Jethmalani, a Rajya Sabha BJP MP, submitted.

On the charge that Sen had carried as a courier a letterfrom jailed Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal to undergroundMaoists, he said, "They (prosecution) planted one document ...

otherwise there is no other document that implicates him. So,this is a useless case (and) government should withdraw it."

Jethmalani contended that Sen, along with Sanyal andKolkata-businessmen Piyush Guha had also been convicted underthe tough Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, a lawwhich, he said, was already under challenge by human rightsactivists in the High Court.

He said Sen, a doctor by profession, had met Sanyal 32times in Raipur Jail and once in Bilaspur Jail to advise theNaxalite ideologue, now 67, on medical issues.

While Jethmalani was assisted by two other lawyers -Mahendra Dubey and Surendra Singh - who also appeared for Sen,Dubey also represented 35-year-old Guha.

On Sen''s wife Ilina''s statement that her husband waspaying a price for being a vocal critic of the policies of thestate government, Jethmalani told reporters outside the court,"That is a very valid defence considering facts of the case."

On he, despite being a BJP MP, appearing for Sen, thesenior lawyer said, "I am not a senior BJP leader. I am only amember of BJP. I don''t see it as a conflict of interest in anycase. Everybody knows I am bound by the rules of professionalconduct and etiquette.

"We have a statutory rule that no lawyer should refuse todefend a person on the ground that he is unpopular," he said,adding that he was appearing for free. .

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