A group of 40 Nobel laureates demanded the release of human rights activist Dr Binayak Sen, on a day the Chhattisgarh high court reserved its order on his bail plea. Sen was sentenced to life term on sedition charges.
The Nobel laureates from 12 countries, including Indian-origin scientist Dr Venkatraman Ramakrishnan, said in a joint statement, "We respectfully express our astonishment and dismay at the unjust life sentence handed down last month in India to a fellow scientist and human rights advocate, 61-year-old Dr Binayak Sen."
"He is a selfless colleague… Yet his recompense has been two years in prison under difficult conditions, a blatantly unfair trial lasting two years in the so-called fast-track sessions court, an unjust conviction of sedition and conspiracy, and condemnation to life imprisonment," it stated.
Ninety-year-old French scientist François Jacob, who won a Nobel in 1965, is the senior-most laureate in the group, which includes several scientists.
Among the signatories are Joseph Murray, who pioneered kidney transplant and Samuel Blumberg who discovered the Hepatitis B virus.
The Nobel laureates have demanded Dr Sen's bail application be heard at the earliest.
At the high court, the state government opposed Sen’s bail plea on the grounds of his links with the Maoists.
"The presumption that he is innocent is unfounded as his association withthe Maoists have been proved through evidences beyond doubt," said prosecution lawyer Kishore Bahaduri.