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SC to decide on arrest of five activists in Bhima-Koregaon case

Activists take out a march in Thiruvananthapuram on August 31, 2018 in protest against the arrest of five human rights activists by the Maharashtra police.

Activists take out a march in Thiruvananthapuram on August 31, 2018 in protest against the arrest of five human rights activists by the Maharashtra police.   | Photo Credit: C. Ratheesh Kumar

Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had protected the liberty of the five activists by placing them under house arrest in their own homes.

A three-judge Supreme Court Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra will on September 28 pass orders on the legality of the raids and arrests of five activists on August 28 in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case.

The Bench, also comprising Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, had sought the entire case diary to examine how an investigation into a riots case in Bhima-Koregaon had spiralled into a conspiracy to assassinate a “sovereign head” and wreck “mass-destruction”, as claimed by the police. The court said it would look into whether the police action was based on material evidence. It had said the entire case against the activists may even be quashed if the evidence relied on by the Maharashtra government was found to be “cooked-up”.

The Chief Justice had protected the liberty of the five activists — poet Vara Vara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha — by placing them under house arrest in their own homes.

 

At one point, the Chief Justice had suggested that they (accused) could continue their efforts in the competent lower courts. The Chief Justice even mooted transferring the pending cases against the activists to one court while continuing with their house arrests. But senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, for petitioner Romila Thapar and four others, had persisted that the apex court should first hear them.

The hearing had also seen the Centre step in and voice its apprehensions about the problem of “naxalism” which has gripped the country.

”I (Centre) have come here because the problem of naxalism is not confined to one State, Maharashtra, but affects the entire nation. I have come here considering the overall situation in the country,” Additional Solicitor General Maninder Singh submitted.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for Maharashtra government, had said the case and arrests was not about the “quelling of dissent”.

“This concerns serious offences. There is material recovered from their laptops, computers, hard disks, etc. We have video-taped all our raids from the moment we knocked on their doors to recovery and seizure. This was done to protect ourselves against future allegations of high-handedness which may be raised against our investigation done in compliance with CrPC,” Mr. Mehta had submitted.

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Printable version | Jun 6, 2020 10:35:13 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/sc-to-decide-on-arrest-of-five-activists-in-bhima-koregaon-case/article25062417.ece

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