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SC notice on Binayak Sen plea

New Delhi, Mar11 (): The Supreme Court bench of justices H S Bedi and C K Prasad asked the Chhattisgarh government to file its response within four weeks, on a petition by rights activist Binayak Sen seeking bail and stay on his life imprisonment imposed by a sessions court for his links with Maoists.

The bench passed the order despite counsel for Sen, seeking adjournment of the matter till Monday.

Sen (61) had moved the apex court challenging the order of the Chhattisgarh High Court which had rejected his bail plea on February 10. A pediatrician and human rights activist, Sen was arrested in May 2007 from Bilaspur town under the stringent Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act. The trial began in May 2008 and 97 witnesses were examined in the case.

He was accused by the prosecution of being a conduit for carrying letters from senior Naxal leaders like Narayan Sanyal, who was in prison, to his supporters.   Fifty eight-year-old Dr Binayak Sen was found guilty of waging war against India and sentenced to life term by a Chhattisgarh court on December 24.

Since coming to Chhattisgarh in 1981, Sen had spent much of his time bringing healthcare to tribals in impoverished areas.  In 2008, when he was in jail, the US-based Global Health Council awarded him for his work in global health and human rights. The same year, a group of 22 Novel laureates condemned Sen’s incarceration.

Sen, a renowned member of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), was awarded the R R Keithan Gold Medal by the Indian Academy of Social Sciences in December 2007.

The government has been facing allegations by activists in recent years for taking a tough stand against those who voice concern about rights abuses or refuse to toe the government line against Maoists.