A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has extended the house arrest of the right activists for four weeks to let them approach the trial court. The activists were arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case.
New Delhi, Sept 28: The Supreme Court on Friday refused to allow release of five activists arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, while saying that the majority opinion is against the activists.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has extended the house arrest of the right activists for four weeks to let them approach the trial court. Meanwhile, the bench has allowed Maharashtra police to go ahead with the investigation, while dismissing plea for an SIT probe into their arrest.
The only dissenting judge was Justice Chandrachud. He said that technicality should not be allowed to override substantive justice. “The PIL by historian Romila Thapar to address the arrest of rights activists was maintainable,” he said, adding that the media meet of the police casts doubt on the impartiality of the investigation.
He castigated Pune police for going public with evidence, terming it as ‘disconcerting behaviour’.
The plea by Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala, had sought an independent probe into the arrests and the immediate release of the activists.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved the judgment on September 20 after counsel for both parties, including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, concluded their submissions.
The bench, that also comprised Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud, had asked the Maharashtra police to file their case diary pertaining to the ongoing investigation in the case.
The five activists — Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha — are under arrest at their respective homes since August 29.
The Maharashtra police had arrested them on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ — held on December 31 last year that had later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon village in the state. The apex court had on September 19 said it would look into the case with a “hawk’s eye” as “liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures”.
It had told the Maharashtra government that there should be a clear-cut distinction between opposition and dissent on one hand and attempts to create disturbance, law and order problems or overthrow the government on the other.
Senior advocate Anand Grover, Ashwini Kumar and advocate Prashant Bhushan had also alleged that the entire case was cooked up and adequate safeguards should be provided to protect the liberty of the five activists. The apex court had also said it may order an SIT probe if it found that the evidence has been “cooked up”.