Bhima-Koregaon case: Supreme Court to examine review petition today

Plea challenges verdict upholding arrest of five activists by Maharashtra police

In what may be a decisive day for five activists accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi will on Friday examine a review petition challenging the majority opinion of the Supreme Court upholding their arrest by the Maharashtra police.

The five were arrested in a pan-India crackdown. But the Supreme Court’s majority opinion held their arrest by the Maharashtra police was not an attempt to silence dissenting voices in the country.

The review petition was filed by noted historian Romila Thapar and four others after their writ petition against the arrests of poet Vara Vara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha failed.

The review would be decided in chambers at 1.45 p.m.


Decisive opinion

Chief Justice Gogoi has replaced his predecessor Justice Dipak Misra, who retired on October 2, with himself on the Bench. Justice Gogoi’s opinion on whether to consent for a review or not would prove decisive.

The other two judges on the Review Bench are Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud. Justice Khanwilkar had written the majority opinion on September 28 upholding the arrests and Justice Chandrachud had authored the dissenting opinion.

It was Chief Justice Misra’s vote which swayed the court’s verdict against the activists on September 28. This time the fate of the review would depend on Chief Justice Gogoi’s vote.

‘No material evidence’

Justice Khanwilkar had concluded that there was no material evidence to show that the “different political ideology” of the activists triggered the police action against them.

The majority opinion said the arrests were made in connection with their alleged link with the members of the banned organisation and its activities. The majority opinion had also rejected a plea for a Supreme Court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the allegations against the five arrested activists. It had allowed the State police to continue with probe.

Right to dissent

Justice Chandrachud, however, had called Ms. Thapar’s petition “genuine.” He expressed strong doubts about the fairness of the State police. The judge had held that the court has a duty to protect individual right to dissent with dignity and liberty. If not, it is time for a requiem for the death of these rights.

“The voices of opposition cannot be muzzled,” Justice Chandrachud had held.

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Printable version | Jun 3, 2020 3:05:52 AM |

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