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Amnesty slams Indian judiciary for Dr Binayak Sen’s life sentence

Amnesty International, an international non-governmental organisation that draws attention to human rights abuses, has criticised the Indian judiciary for sentencing Dr Binayak Sen, a paediatrician and activist, to life imprisonment on charges of helping Maoist rebels in Chhattisgarh.

Describing the charges against Dr Binayak Sen as baseless and politically motivated, Amnesty has said, the sentence will seriously intimidate other human rights defenders who would provide a peaceful outlet for the people’s grievances, especially for the indigenous Adivasi population.

Binayak Sen, arrested in 2007 in Chhattisgarh and accused of waging war against India, was convicted and given the life sentence by a local court on December 24, 2010. Dr Sen, who was out on bail since May 2009, was immediately taken into custody after the announcement of the sentence.

“Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence,” Sam Zarifi, director, Asia-Pacific, Amnesty International, has said.

Amartya Sen, a noted economist and Nobel laureate, has also come out in support of Dr Binayak Sen. “I am very upset about the court decision in Chhattisgarh about Binayak Sen. It is a huge perversion of our system of justice, and particularly of the laws concerning sedition,” Amartya Sen has said.

According to Amartya Sen, it’s not clear if the exact charge against Dr Binayak Sen (of passing letters from co-accused Narayan Sanyal to Piyush Guha) has been proved beyond doubt. And even if this were correct, that doesn’t amount to sedition. “He hasn’t killed anyone, he hasn’t incited anyone to rise in violent protest or rebellion,” Amartya Sen has added.

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