Raipur: Human Rights activist and paediatrician Binayak Sen walked out of Raipur Central Jail on Monday, three days after the Supreme Court granted him bail saying he was at best a Maoist sympathiser.

There was jubilation and enormous relief amongst the crowd waiting outside the Raipur jail, where the 61-year-old medical doctor had been undergoing his life imprisonment.

As Sen walked out of the prison, his family, including his elderly mother, wife and daughter, hugged him. So did some other supporters as emotions ran high.

He was sentenced by a Chhattisgarh trial court Dec 24, 2010 for sedition. Sen was accused of acting as a messanger between Maoist ideologue Narayan Sanyal and Kolkata-based businessman Guha, both of whom have been jailed for life.

Sen had challenged the February 10 order of the High Court rejecting his bail plea.

On Friday, the Supreme Court backed him and said in a scathing observation that a person does not become a Gandhian just because he is found with a biography of Mahatma Gandhi.

Stating categorically that there was no case of sedition against Sen, the Apex Court bench of Justices Harjit Singh Bedi and Chandramauli Kumar Prasad had said, "We are in a democratic country. At best he (Binayak Sen) is a sympathiser. There are many sympathisers of a cause."

The court ridiculed the state's submission that Sen was actively involved in spreading disharmony and disaffection against the state.

"Distribution and circulation and even possession of (Maoist ideology and propaganda material) does not amount to sedition," the court said.

"Even in the worst case scenario, that he (Sen) was in possession of these documents, does not make him guilty of sedition," it had said.

The court said, "Even if we take your (state government's) case at its very best, can it amount to sedition?"

The state government, in its reply to Sen's petition in the High Court, said he "has the same ideology as that of CPI-Maoist (Communist Party of India-Maoist) and he is addressed as comrade by hardcore Naxalites (Maoists)".

Agencies