timeline of events in the Strange Case of Dr Binayak Sen

Here is a bulleted timeline of events in the Strange Case of Dr Binayak Sen. Nandini Sengupta prepared it based on raw materials sent by Ilina, who then updated it further.

Thanks to Nandini & Ilina for this compilation

  • May 6th, 2007. Piyush Guha, a businessman, is allegedly arrested in Raipur during a random search by police. The search of his body and belongings is supposed to reveal that he was in possession of magazines and letters related to the Naxalite movement. The letters were from Narayan Sanyal, an alleged leader of the Naxalites who was in prison on charges of murder. Guha claims that the letters were given to him by Dr. Binayak Sen, who had met several times with Sanyal.

  • May 14th, 2007. Dr. Sen is arrested in Bilaspur on charges of acting as a courier between Sanyal and Guha, thus aiding and abetting an unlawful organization, i.e., the Naxalites.

  • May 15th, 2007. Dr. Sen is remanded to judicial custody. Bail is denied. A farm belonging to his wife, Dr. Ilina Sen, is raided and searched illegally by the police.

  • May 18th, 2007. Dr. Sen is produced in court. His lawyers are denied the opportunity to see the Firs Information Report (FIR) filed by the police. Court orders a search of Dr. Sen’s house in the presence of independent witnesses and Dr. Ilina Sen. The search is conducted the next day, with no incriminating material found.

  • May 22nd, 2007. Dr. Sen is produced in court along with Piyush Guha. Judicial remand extended to June 5th. Court orders search of Dr. Sen’s computer.

  • May 25th 2007. Dr. Sen is denied bail again, with the Chhattisgarh government claiming that he is a threat to state security.

  • May 26th to June 4th, 2007. Multiple rallies and meetings in support of Dr. Sen are held in Raipur, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Coimbatore, Lucknow, London, Boston, New York and elsewhere. Various delegations of physicians and human rights activists meet with the Chief Secretary, Govt. of India and the Law Secretary to appeal for Dr. Sen’s release.

  • June 5th, 2007. Dr. Sen is produced in court. Rebuts allegations by police.

  • June 6th to June 11th, 2007. Analysis of Dr. Sen’s computer is apparently conducted by CFSL, Hyderabad in the absence of defence lawyers. A protest is filed on June 18th.

  • June 19th, 2007. Dr. Sen is not produced in court as ordered, the police claiming lack of the armed escort needed for a dangerous criminal.

  • December 10th , 2007. Dr. Sen’s final bail petition is denied by a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India after only 35 minutes of deliberation. It is worth noting that the junior judge initially selected to hear the petition was replaced just before the hearing, and that the senior judge was feted by the Chhattisgarh government from December 8th to 9th as the chief guest at the inauguration of a legal aid center.

  • December 31st, 2007. Dr. Sen is awarded the R.R. Keithan Gold Medal by the Indian Academy of Social Sciences in recognition of “his outstanding contribution to the advancement of science of Nature-Man-Society and his honest and sincere application for the improvement of quality of life of the poor, the downtrodden and the oppressed people of Chhattisgarh.”

  • March 15th to April 11th, 2008. Dr. Sen is kept in solitary confinement for unclear reasons. The prison authorities claim that it is for his own security but provide no further explanation. Widespread protests prompt his release from solitary confinement.

  • April 21st, 2008. Dr. Sen is awarded the Jonathan Mann Award by the Global Health Council, the highest honor in global health and human rights. In a statement in support of Dr. Sen, the Council noted that “His good works need to be recognized as a major contribution to India and to global health; they are certainly not a threat to state security.”

  • May 30th, 2008. Dr. Sen’s trial commences and is currently on-going. None of the witnesses so far examined support the prosecution story of meetings with Pijush guha and visiting sanyal posing as his relative.Decision to file for bail in view of the collapsing chargesheet taken by the legal team in August.

  • July, 29, 2008. Strong suggestion that evidence is being tampered with by the prosecution when a sealed envelope containing material taken during the house search of Binayak reveals 11 documents instead of the 10 on the list. The 11th doc is an unsigned letter from the CPI (Maoist) thanking him for his help in their work. Unlike other house search documents, this only contains the signature of the investigating officer, and is not countersigned by Binayak.

  • August 11, 2008. The second bail petition filed in the Chhattisgarh High Court at Bilaspur.

  • August 14, 2008. First hearing on the bail matter. Hearing adjourned.

  • September 8, 2008 Judge requests Sr Counsel for Binayak, Ms Anjana Prakash for the bail petition filed in the Supreme Court.

  • September 19, 2008. Required documents filed.

  • November, 3, 2008. Since the case fails to be listed for hearing, an application filed for an early fixed date.

  • November, 24, 2008 Since there is no affirmative action on the previous application, the Judge is again reminded that the case remains unlisted.The judge agrees to hear it on December 2.

  • December 2, 2008. Arguments on the bail take place, and the case is dismissed ‘at the motion (admission) stage’ on the twin logic that there is no fresh ground since the previous bail rejection and that the hearings are going expediously and will lead to an early conclusion of the trial.

  • December, 3, 2008. Supplementary charge sheet filed , listing 47 additional witnesses.