Jailed DU professor GN Saibaba terminated by Ram Lal Anand College
Professor GN Saibaba's wife Vasantha Kumari confirmed receiving the letter and said that no reason was mentioned by the college for the termination.
Delhi University professor GN Saibaba, sentenced to life imprisonment in 2017 by a Maharashtra court for his links with Left-wing extremist groups, was terminated from his services at Ram Lal Anand College on Thursday. While the college principal did not respond to several texts and calls seeking comment, Delhi University officials said the decision was taken as per existing rules.
In a note sent to Saibaba’s family on Thursday, college principal Rakesh Kumar Gupta wrote, “The services of GN Saibaba, Assistant Professor, Ram Lal Anand College, are terminated with effect from the afternoon of 31st day of March, 2021. Three months’ salary has been paid in his Savings Bank Account.”
His wife Vasantha Kumari confirmed receiving the letter and said that no reason was mentioned by the college for the termination. “We have already challenged the conviction in the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court which is pending. What was the reason to terminate him in such a hurry during a pandemic? There have been cases in the past where people have been acquitted after being wrongly convicted,” she said.
DU’s Dean of Colleges Balaram Pani said the college governing body took the call on the basis of existing rules. “The university has given the approval to the governing body decision which was taken because the said professor is under life imprisonment. This [the termination notice] is the rule. The governing body would have kept legal implications in mind and taken the decision accordingly. As far as an appeal to a higher court is concerned, we will see what the court says.”
In March 2017, the Gadchiroli sessions court convicted Saibaba along with five others for links with Left-wing extremist organisations and “waging war” against India under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. All of them were sentenced to life imprisonment.
GN Saibaba was convicted under sections 13, 18, 20, 38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code. The sections of the UAPA refer to committing terrorist activities, abetting, advising or inciting lawful activities, association with terror groups and inviting support for terror groups.
Saibaba, a wheelchair-bound English professor, was arrested by the Maharashtra police in May, 2014, for his alleged links with top leaders of the outlawed CPI (Maoist) including Puppalla Laxman Rao alias Ganapathy.
On Friday, DU Teachers’ Association President (DUTA) Rajib Ray criticised the move: “The final decision in the case is yet to come out considering the appeal. Therefore, the college and university administration should not have taken this decision.”
Saibaba’s family alleged that the college’s decision is only to “mentally torture and harass” them. “We were receiving half the salary since the suspension, and the college administration wanted to stop that as well. They have taken this decision to terrorize us,” said Kumari.
The family also claimed to have received several memoranda from the college over arbitrary matters. One such memorandum sent by the college in September 2019 stated: “The College has come to a conclusion that his (Saibaba’s) conduct was unbecoming of a teacher and that he was not fulfilling his obligation as a teacher. The college has arrived at the conclusion that appropriate action must be taken against Dr. Saibaba…”
The college asked Saibaba to furnish a response within 21 days failing which governing body would be “free to take such action as may be appropriate .”
On behalf of Saibaba, Kumari responded saying that her husband was not in “good health” and “not in a position to read and send a reply within stipulated time.” In the reply, she requested the college not to take any action as the case is not final “until all appellate remedies are exhausted.”
In the letter, Kumari also raised the case of former DU professor SAR Geelani who was convicted and then acquitted in the 2001 Parliament attack case. “He was merely suspended despite his arrest in the Parliament Attack case and his employment remained under suspension despite conviction in the trial court,” Kumari said.
Nandita Narain, a DU professor associated with the Committee for the Defence and Release of Dr GN Saibaba, said: “The college had been issuing multiple notices to the family. Usually, retributive action is not taken by the college while the judicial process is on.”
Saibaba tested positive for Covid in February and is recovering, the family said. “His post-Covid care hasn’t been great and he is still recovering from cough and cold. We will be challenging the termination in court,” said Kumari.
In a letter to the college in 2019, Kumari had written, “My husband has three dependents, me, our daughter and his mother, all of whom are completely dependent on his salary to survive including the payment of rent and other expenses.” Saibaba’s mother died last year.