SC agrees to urgently hear plea seeking release arrested activists

Published - August 29, 2018 12:39 pm IST - NEW DELHI

The Supreme Court on Wednesday will urgently hear a petition challenging the raids and arrests of five activists.

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, who is heading a Constitution Bench, agreed to an oral mentioning by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi representing five eminent persons, Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maja Dharuwala. The Chief Justice said the matter would be heard by the appropriate Bench at 3.45 p.m.

The petition contended that the “sweeping” raids and arrests of poet Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai and Chhattisgarh and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi is an “attempt to brow beat and intimidate them and similar people.”

The arrests have been made by the Maharashtra Police, which alleged the involvement of the arrested activists in Maharashtra's Bhima-Koregaon village spurred by ‘Elgar Parishad’ (conclave) held in Pune on December 31 last year.

The petition, filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan, sought the immediate release of all the human rights activists who have been arrested in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence case in June and August 2018.

The petition sought the apex court to order an independent inestigation into the arrests of the activists. It wants the court to order the State of Maharashtra to explain the “sweeping round of arrests.”

The petition said the arrests of the activists should be stayed till the “matter is fully investigated and decided by this court.”

The petition said the “very well-known human rights activists and dissenting voices who were arrested on the basis of the Bhima-Koregaon events, which they did not attend and had nothing to do with, is clearly malafide and an attempt to silence the dissenting voices and human rights activists in the country.”

“The arrests and raids on them clearly violates the fundamental rights guaranteed to law-abiding citizens under Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution... The use of the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act agains these peace-loving activists who have no historg of indulging in any violence or instigating any violence is clearly malafide,” the petition said.

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