In an anguished letter to retired Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju, the wife of GN Saibaba has said that the imprisoned Delhi University Professor is "90% disabled" but not allowed any help with his basic functions -- the use of toilet and washing his clothes -- at the Nagpur jail. He also faces an acute health risk since he had to stop the treatment for muscular regeneration after his bail was cancelled by the Bombay High Court.
Saibaba had developed severe problems in multiple organs, such as his heart, spinal cord, kidney, liver and gall bladder during his year-long stay at the jail. His left arm, which was functioning before he went to prison, became completely paralysed due to gradual muscle death, she said in her letter to Katju. Since he can't use his legs, he is entirely dependent on his hands, she said.
Saibaba, who was on bail till December 31, is accused of having Maoist links. He had surrendered before the Central Jail authorities as per the directive of the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court. On December 23, the Bench had rejected his regular bail application and directed him to surrender within 48 hours.
Justice Arun Choudhary had declined the request to grant more time to Saibaba to surrender and directed the police to arrest him if he failed to turn up within two days, PTI reported. The HC cited a medical report which clearly stated that proper medical aid was extended to Saibaba by doctors when he was lodged in the Nagpur prison.
Justice Katju said he will be challenging the court order in the Supreme Court.
"I told her not to worry. The order cancelling Prof. Saibaba's bail will be challenged soon in SC and I am quite hopeful he will be released. Yesterday I spoke to Mrs. Saibaba. She was returning from the airport after seeing off her husband who has gone to surrender in Nagpur Court. Every moment of Prof Saibaba's detention on trumped up charges is a flagrant violation of our civil liberties guaranteed by the Constitution," Katju tweeted.
Because of his disabilities Saibaba’s muscles suffer anyway in the winter. His fingers and toes have a tendency to get bent in extreme cold.
"The 'anda' cell of Nagpur Prison where he was lodged during his prison term is the most hostile place for anyone to be. Saibaba particularly with his disability finds it extremely difficult to stay in the anda cell. Moreover, the prison authorities do not allow him assistants. Saibaba has to do everything from going to toilet or washing his clothes on his own. Moreover, the anda cell is an open space which becomes unbearably cold in the winter. Because of his disabilities Saibaba’s muscles suffer anyway in the winter. His fingers and toes have a tendency to get bent in extreme cold, which further restricts his mobility," Saibaba's wife Vasantha wrote.
Lawyers of the wheelchair-bound professor had pleaded for extension of bail on health grounds. Saibaba was arrested in May 2014 by Gadchiroli Police of Maharashtra for alleged active links with Naxals. Pournima Upadhyay, an activist, had written a letter to the Chief Justice of Bombay HC which was treated as PIL and thereafter temporary bail was granted to Saibaba for three months on health grounds by the Principal Bench based in Mumbai.
Taking a serious view of criticism of the judiciary by Booker prize-winner writer Arundhati Roy in her article about the professor, Justice Arun Choudhary also issued a criminal contempt notice to her which is returnable by January 25.
Earlier, the DU professor had claimed in an interview with The Indian Express that he felt he was being used.
“I don’t feel like a victim but certainly feel I am being used and it is unfair,” Saibaba said.
I don’t feel like a victim but certainly feel I am being used and it is unfair.
“I am not surrendering before anyone. Whether right or wrong, I have to follow the judicial process,” he said.
Here's the full text of the letter Saibaba's wife sent to Katju. Katju published it with consent from the jailed professor's wife.
Respected Justice Katju,
I just read your mail. I read your article and I am circulating it with everyone. I am really touched by this gesture of yours to reach out to me. I write this letter to you in great pain and distress. Today Saibaba had to leave for Nagpur jail once again. We were shocked to hear the order and it gave us no time for taking further legal recourse in Supreme Court as the Christmas vacations started. He has gone back to prison today.
As you might be aware, Saibaba was suffering from multiple ailments after his 14 month long stay in the prison. He had developed severe problems in multiple organs like heart, spinal cord, kidney, liver and gall bladder and his left arm which was well functioning before he went to prison, became completely paralysed owing to gradual muscle death. He was in the middle of the treatment when this judgment forced him back to prison. He was taking regular treatment and physiotherapy in Indian Institute of Spinal Injuries.
The treatment that he was taking there is unique and is not available in any other institution in the entire country. This sudden discontinuation of his treatment is going to affect his health severely. I am particularly concerned that the process of regeneration of his muscles in the left hand, that had slowly started after long treatment and physiotherapy, will reverse once again. As you know Saibaba is 90% disabled and is wheel chair bound. His legs are dysfunctional and he is heavily dependent on the use of his arms.
The anda cell of Nagpur Prison where he was lodged during his prison term is the most hostile place for anyone to be. Saibaba particularly with his disability finds it extremely difficult to stay in the anda cell. Moreover, the prison authorities do not allow him assistants. Saibaba has to do everything from going to toilet or washing his clothes on his own. Moreover, the anda cell is an open space which becomes unbearably cold in the winter. Because of his disabilities Saibaba’s muscles suffer anyway in the winter. His fingers and toes have a tendency to get bent in extreme cold, which further restricts his mobility. Taking all this into consideration I am extremely worried that the current incarceration will affect Saibaba’s health beyond recuperation.
Saibaba has been witch hunted and framed because of his political beliefs. The trial of the case that has been slapped on him under UAPA is going on very slowly. Five other accused in the same case have all been granted regular bail whereas he is being imprisoned without even bail, despite his medical conditions and disability. I hope in the long run justice will prevail and we shall win the case against this baseless framing and slapping of bogus charges on him, but I am worried that irreparable damage will be done to Saibaba’s body in the mean time.
I am in consultation with senior lawyers who are working on Saibaba’s petition in the Supreme Court. But even filing the petition and subsequent hearing on it will take a month’s time. In the mean time I wonder what options are left to me to ensure Saibaba gets his medical treatment. Our experiences with the Nagpur prison authorities so far have been pathetic. They had blatantly flouted even court orders that instructed them to give Saibaba requisite treatment and in January we actually had to file a contempt of court to ensure his treatment.
I am appealing to you to intervene in whichever capacity possible, to minimise the unjust ordeal that Saibaba is being subject to right now. May be a few prominent citizens like yourself can go and meet the Home Ministry in a delegation and pressurise them to bring Saibaba back for his treatment. I shall deliberate with you further the possibilities of such programs.
I once again thank you wholeheartedly for showing your concern.
p.s. I am attaching you the copy of the Court orders.
(With PTI inputs)
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