Intelligence Report Against Justice Rohit Deo In Relation To GN Saibaba's Case Led To His Transfer & Resignation: Reports
Justice Rohit Baban Deo sitting on the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court announced his resignation in open court on Friday. Though the reason for his resignation was not announced by Justice Deo, it has come out in the media thereafter that Justice Deo was proposed to be transferred by the Supreme Court Collegium.
It has now been reported that the decision to recommend the transfer of Jutice Deo was due to intelligence reports about "some untoward incidents that cast a shadow" on the proceedings that resulted in his judgment acquitting alleged Maoist GN Saibaba. As per the Times of India report, the Supreme Court Collegium had informed Justice Deo that the intelligence input relating to the Saibaba case was the reason for his transfer to Allahabad High Court.
Interestingly, before his elevation, Rohit Deo was an Assistant Solicitor General of India for the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, appointed by the Central Government on July 17, 2014, immediately after the 1st NDA government came to power in the Centre. Thereafter, he was appointed as the Associate Advocate General of Maharashtra on June 23, 2015, Acting Advocate General on March, 22, 2016 the Advocate General of Maharashtra on December, 28, 2016, all while Devendra Fadnavis was the Chief Minister of the state. He was appointed an Additional Judge of the High Court on June 5, 2017.
GN Saibaba was acquitted by a Bench headed by Justice Deo and his immediate release was ordered citing a technical ground that the trial was held without valid sanction in accordance with Section 45 of the UAPA. In its order, the Bench criticised the Sessions judge who had convicted Saibaba and others for the remark in the judgment that Saibaba is mentally fit and is a think tank of the banned organisation which by its violent activities has brought the industrial and other development in the naxal affected areas to a grinding halt.
"We do not approve of the unwarranted observations of the learned Sessions Judge, which may have the unintended consequence of rendering the verdict vulnerable to the charge of lack of dispassionate objectivity", Justice Deo's Bench had observed in the order.
The decision to transfer the Judge has not been published on the website of the Supreme Court yet. However, it has been reported that Justice Deo was part of 25 High Court judges who have been recommended for transfer by the Collegium comprising CJI DY Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Justice Sanjiv Khanna, Justice BR Gavai and Justice Surya Kant.
In a special sitting held on a Saturday in October, 2022, a Special Bench of the Apex Court comprising Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Bela Trivedi suspended the Bombay High Court's Judgment acquitting G. N. Saibaba in the alleged Maoist link case. The Bench had also rejected the plea of Saibaba for house arrest. The decision to constitute a special bench to hear an appeal against acquittal was widely criticised then.
A Bench of Justice MR Shah and Justice CT Ravikumar thereafter remitted the matter back to the High Court to decide it afresh on merits. The Supreme Court had directed the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court to ensure that the appeals are placed before a bench other than the bench that passed the impugned Order, i.e. the Bench of Justice Rohit Deo.