HYDERABAD: Council for Social Development regional director Kalpana Kannabiran has filed a petition in the Supreme Court for appropriate order to secure the release of Delhi University professor GN Saibaba from the solitary confinement in prison and also orders to permit him to stay with his care-givers in a place where he has routine and familiar access to medical facilities, assistance and health care.
Prof Kalpana Kannabiran filed the petition invoking the epistolary jurisdiction under Article 32 of the Constitution.
The petitioner, naming Union of India, National Human Rights Commission, State of Maharashtra and Dr GN Saibaba as respondents, argued that Saibabab’s arrest was unconstitutional and violative of his rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution as he had disability which was aggravated by his chronic ill health.
She said in her petition that Saibaba had been arrested by the Maharashtra police for alleged links with Maoists. He has been kept in solitary confinement in the Nagpur Central Prison. “Saibaba teaches English at Ram Lal Anand College in Delhi and is a wheelchair user with 90 per cent benchmark disability caused by permanent post-polio paralysis of legs and painful chronic spinal condition. In addition to this, he suffers from chronic heart ailment with high blood pressure.”
The petitioner said that detention of a person with severe disabilities, who requires high support for daily living, was violative of his dignity and personal liberty. “Keeping such a person in solitary confinement in judicial custody amounts to denial of access to health care and recognition of need for special assistance for persons with disabilities.”
She said the action of the state of Maharashtra in arresting Saibaba was violative of India’s commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The convention enjoins states to refrain from engaging in any act or practice inconsistent with the present convention and to ensure that public authorities and institutions act in conformity with the present convention. The convention also says that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
She said that denial of special provisions, assistance and specialised health care access to person with disabilities in custody who uses a wheelchair and has special health care needs arising from chronic illness, comes firmly within the meaning of “degrading, inhuman and cruel treatment in derogation of the state’s obligation under the UNCRPD.”
■ He suffers from chronic heart ailment and post-polio paralysis
■ He is wheelchair-bound
■ He has 90 pc benchmark disability