The Supreme Court on Tuesday granted bail to Piyush Guha, who was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment along with civil rights activist Binayak Sen in a sedition case.
The vacation bench of justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad suspended the sentence of life imprisonment and directed Guha's release on bail.
The bench also directed Guha to furnish a bail bond of Rs two lakh and two sureties of one lakh each.
Guha, a Kolkata-based businessman, was convicted along with Sen and Naxal ideologue Narayan Sanyal for colluding with Maoists to establish a network to fight the state. They were awarded life imprisonment.
He then challenged his conviction in the Chhattisgarh high court which refused to grant him bail in the case
The apex court had on May 24 issued a notice to the state government and had asked it to file its response by Tuesday. Challenging the order of the Chhattisgarh high court, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for Guha, had pleaded with the court to grant bail, saying he has already spent four years in jail.
He had also pointed out that the apex court recently granted bail to Sen. The apex court had granted bail to Sen on April 15 while questioning his conviction and life sentence for sedition, saying he could be a sympathiser of Naxalites and nothing beyond that.
"No case of sedition is made out," the apex court had said.
"He may be a sympathiser (of Naxalites) but it did not make him guilty of sedition. The worst that can be said is he was found in possession of general documents (relating to Naxal activities. But how can it be said that such possession would attract the charge of sedition? How can you level the charge of sedition," the bench had asked.
The conviction and life imprisonment of Sen, along with Guha and Sanyal, had led to outrage in many quarters, including international human rights bodies which had sought the government's permission to observe the court proceedings in the case.