Mumbai

Activists welcome SC verdict, say arrests diversionary tactic

Express apprehension over possible miscarriage of justice

Activists from civil liberties organisations, members of trade unions and lawyers on Monday expressed apprehension over the possible miscarriage of justice in the arrest of activists in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence. They also highlighted the media trial the activists have been subjected to despite the Supreme Court’s judgment.

Last week, the Supreme Court in its judgment on the petition filed by historian Romila Thapar, eminent academics and activists had extended the house arrests of Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao for four weeks and asked the probe to continue.

Susan Abraham, advocate and wife of Vernon Gonsalves, said, “The majority judgment says repeatedly that they did not wish to dilate on this matter any further for it may cause prejudice to the accused and to the prosecution. Their stand was let the matter be investigated. It gave 50% chance to the prosecution and 50% chance to the arrested to move the lower courts.”

Ms. Abraham called the petition extraordinary, which turned the discussion and debate into a national issue. She said, “One positive takeaway after the past one month is that what would have been a debate within Pune or Mumbai, became a national-level discussion.”

Eminent lawyer Flavia Agnes said the arrests of the 10 activists were nothing but a diversionary tactic by the government. She said, “What is the basis of the arrests? What is the government trying to do and how many more will be arrested between now and the general election of 2019?” Ms. Agnes said that they would have to wait and watch how the courts read the Supreme Court judgment.

Activist Shiraz Prabhu said, “Arrest them, implicate them, manufacture the evidence. Ultimately you’re going to say they are acquitted. But what happens in the interim? How are we playing with democracy? What happens to the rights of these individuals?”

Ms. Abraham said after a dramatic month, the government at some level was on the back foot. She said, “The government as well as the police were trying their level best to do in the Supreme Court what they had achieved in the Pune district court. Fortunately, they did not succeed.”

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Printable version | May 26, 2020 6:19:46 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/activists-welcome-sc-verdict-say-arrests-diversionary-tactic/article25100171.ece

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