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SC allows rights activists to remain under house arrest

In custody:Vernon Gonsalves at the Faraskhana policestation in Pune on Wednesday.Jignesh MistryJignesh Mistry

In custody:Vernon Gonsalves at the Faraskhana policestation in Pune on Wednesday.Jignesh MistryJignesh Mistry  

If dissent is not allowed, democracy will burst under pressure, says judge

The Supreme Court on Wednesday ordered the Pune police to place the five well-known rights activists they detained in a countrywide crackdown on Tuesday under house arrest, and that too, in their own homes.

The court was hearing a petition filed by five eminent persons — Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maja Dharuwala.

‘Safety valve’

A three-judge Bench, led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, lashed out at the “sweeping round of arrests,” observing that democracy could not survive without dissenting voices. “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If dissent is not allowed, democracy will burst under pressure,” Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, said.

Poet Varavara Rao was picked up in Hyderabad, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Vernon Gonsalves in Mumbai, Arun Ferreira in Chhattisgarh and Gautam Navalakha in Delhi.

Ms. Bharadwaj and Mr. Navalakha are already under house arrest in pursuance of an order of the High Court concerned. The Supreme Court extended their house arrest till September 6, the next date of hearing. In its interim order, the Bench, also comprising Justice A.M. Khanwilkar, directed that Mr. Rao, Mr. Gonsalves and Mr. Ferreira, if arrested, should be placed under house arrest in their homes.

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