One of three people who were convicted of sedition died while the appeal was pending before the high court.

Kolkata: Three 'Maoists' Acquitted After Spending 14 Years in Jail

Calcutta high court. Credit: Wikipedia

Kolkata: The Calcutta high court on Friday acquitted three alleged Maoists, 14 years after they were sentenced to life imprisonment by a trial court on sedition charges.

One of the three persons died during pendency of their appeal, which was filed in 2006.

A division bench comprising Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Suvra Ghosh declared the three persons not guilty of sedition and other charges on which they were convicted.

Sushil Roy, Patitpaban Haldar and Santosh Debnath were arrested from Jhargram in the then Maoist-affected Jangalmahal area of West Bengal in 2005 on the charge that they were inciting people to hold armed struggle to overthrow the elected government in the state, their lawyer Amartya Ghosh said.

Though Maoist literature and some other materials were recovered from them, no arms were seized, he said.

The petitioners’ lawyer submitted before the division bench that they were falsely implicated on sedition charges and the Arms Act by the police who claimed to have seized gelatin sticks and ammunition for .303 rifles from a rented apartment in Hooghly district.

The sessions court in Jhargram found them guilty of sedition charges and under Arms Act and sentenced them to life imprisonment in 2005.

The three persons filed an appeal before the high court in 2006.

Sushil Roy died in 2014, while the appeal win pending, Ghosh said.A

The division bench found glitches in the claims of the prosecution over seizure of arms and ammunition from the apartment which the accused persons had allegedly rented in Hooghly.

Submitting that the police had made false claims about seizure of arms or ammunition from them, the petitioners’ lawyer told the bench that there was no signature of the accused persons in the tenancy agreement for the said accommodation.

Additional public prosecutor N. Ahmed opposed the appeal of the three claiming that they were “hardcore Maoists” involved in seditious activities.

Hearing both the parties, the division bench acquitted the three persons.