The judgement related with Dr Binayak Sen has created some kind of debate in the society. A very large number of Articles, write ups and analysis on this judgement along with its overall context and the background of the case have already come up, with a majority of them commenting upon the judgement adversely. It is very rare to see decisions in India being condemned particularly because of the inbuilt fear of the Contempt of Courts Act. Yet, in this particular case, criticism of the decision along with protests, seminars, petitions and discussions are taking place in large numbers.
But the not everyone is unanimous in his/her opinion about the judgment. Though the dominant voice presently seems to be that of protest, yet the other voice which out rightly supports this decision is also coming up. An interesting thing to be seem here is that while such Articles which find the judgment appropriate are lesser in number, many strong and supportive reactions of common readers to these articles can be seen coming up. In fact, in one of my own write-up here at Bhadas (http://bhadas4media.com/article-comment/8209-2010-12-30-04-33-56.html) where I had presented a fact about most of the defence witnesses of Dr Sen being from Media, I got two responses that were highly critical of me for supposedly glorifying Naxal activities, while I was merely stating facts.
Thus, not exactly presenting my own point of view and my own comments on this judgement, because firstly I need to understand many of the finer nuances of criminal law (including the CrPC and the Evidence Act, along with the interpretation and decisions on the sections in which Dr Sen has been convicted) before being in a position to give an authoritative comment upon a judicial pronouncement, here I am presenting two Articles each in favour of and against the judgement for the readers to analyse the matter and to make up their minds in this hugely debated matter.
The first of these is by Sri Ramachandra Guha, the eminent historian, titled “Not to question why” (http://www.binayaksen.net/2010/12/not-to-question-why/) In his article, he concludes-“ Sen’s conviction happened in a court subject to intimidation by a government run by (and I use the word advisedly) paranoid politicians (helped by sometimes paranoid police officers). His conviction will and should be challenged. As it stands, however, it is a disgrace to democracy. His brave wife commented on the verdict that if “one who has worked for the poor of the country for 30 years, if that person is found guilty of sedition activities and conspiracy, when gangsters and scamsters are walking free, I think it’s a scandalous situation”. Any reasonable Indian would concur.”
The second Article I present is by Ms Jyoti Punwani, a Mumbai-based journalist and political commentator, titled- ” A mockery of justice”. (http://expressbuzz.com/opinion/columnists/a-mockery-of-justice/235002.html ). In this Article she analyzes the case and the judgement from the legal perspective and says-“ s they do in court. Comparing Additional Sessions Judge B P Verma’s judgment with the notes of evidence, one agrees with Sen’s lawyer Mahendra Dubey that judge chose to ignore most of the cross-examination, relying only on the special PP’s examination-in-chief. The most far-fetched police testimonies have been accepted.”
An article favouring the judgement is that of Sri Kanchan Gupta, journalist and political analyst. In his Article- “ Spurious protests over Binayak Sen” (http://www.dailypioneer.com/306255/Spurious-protests-over-Binayak-Sen.html), he also delves into the legality of the decision and finally concludes with these words-“In this war, we can choose to be either with the state or the Maoists; there’s no halfway house because the future of our freedom, our liberty, our open society and our democracy is at stake. Binayak Sen exercised his choice.”
The fourth Article is in Hindi. It is by Dr Ved Prakash Vaidik, a political analyst and writer. His Article “Kamredon ka fizul rodan” (Irrelevant cry of the Comrades) (http://www.bhaskar.com/article/ABH-comrades-of-the-nonsense-roadan-1700131.html ) says that the judgement in this case was completely fair and those who are condemning it are people from the upper echelons of the society who are not in touch with reality. He writes-
“कौन हैं ये लोग? असल में ये ही ‘बाबा लोग’ हैं। अंग्रेजीवाले बाबा! इनकी पहचान क्या है? शहरी हैं, ऊंची जात है, मालदार हैं और अंग्रेजीदां हैं। आम लोगों से कटे हुए, लेकिन देश और विदेश के अंग्रेजी अखबारों और चैनलों से जुड़े हुए। इन्हें महान बौद्धिक और देश का ठेकेदार कहकर प्रचारित किया जाता है.” (Who are these people- actually they are Baba log. English Baba log. What is their identity? They are urban, high caste, moneyed people and English oriented. They are cutoff from the rest of the Nation but are connected to the English channels and newspapers of India and abroad. They are advertised as great intellectuals and moral bearers of the country.)
Having presented these four Articles, I seek excuse from all the people for whom I have presented unpalatable things. This is because the first thing we must learn to understand, recognize and appreciate is that there is a right to academic and intellectual dissent in any civilized society. But at the same time, we will also have to understand that this right is within certain bounds as envisaged by the laws of the Land as pronounced at that moment and as applicable to a person.
Amitabh Thakur, IPS, Currently at IIM Lucknow