The Supreme Court on Saturday will hear a petition filed by the Maharashtra government challenging the acquittal of former Delhi University professor GN Saibaba in an alleged Maoist links case, Bar and Bench reported.

A bench comprising Justice MR Shah and Bela M Trivedi will hear the matter at 11 am.

Earlier in the day, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra government, had urged the Supreme Court to stay the Bombay High Court order directing jail authorities to immediately release Saibaba, Live Law reported.

“It is a very very serious offence against the nation,” he told the court. “We have not lost [the case] on merit, it is on lack of sanction…. No prejudice would be caused because he was already in jail.”

Justice DY Chandrachud had told him that he can ask the registry to list the matter on Monday. “He has got an order of acquittal in his favour,” the judge said. “Even if we take it up on Monday, and assuming we issue notice we cannot stay the order.”

The Bombay High Court Nagpur bench of Justices Rohit Deo and Anil Pansare held that a sessions court in Gadchiroli had sentenced Saibaba in 2017 to life imprisonment for his alleged links with the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act without sanctions from the central government.

“Empirical evidence suggests that departure from the due process of law fosters an ecosystem in which terrorism burgeons and provides fodder to vested interests whose singular agenda is to propagate false narrative,” the High Court said in its order.

In its 101-page judgement, the judges noted that the sanction to prosecute the accused under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act was “bad in law and invalid”.

The court said that while the fight against terrorism was important, procedural safeguards can not be sacrificed “at the alter of perceived peril to national security”.

Saibaba, who is wheelchair-bound due to 90% physical disability, was arrested in May 2014 after the police alleged that he was “likely to indulge in anti-national activities”. Following his conviction in 2017, Saibaba was lodged at the Nagpur Central Jail.

Apart from Saibaba, the High Court on Friday acquitted accused Mahesh Tirki, Pandu Pora Narote, Hem Keshwdatta Mishra, Prashant Rahi, Vijay Nan Tirki. Narote died in prison on August 26 due to swine flu.