The Supreme Court on Friday, 28 September, ruled that the activists in the Bhima Koregaon case will continue being under house arrest for four more weeks. The SC pronounced a 2:1 verdict on a plea by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of the five human rights activists.
The plea also sought a probe into their arrest by a Special Investigation Team (SIT).
- Justice AM Khanwilkar said the accused persons cannot choose which investigating agencies should investigate
- Justice DY Chandrachud was in dissent of the judgment, and said that an SIT probe was required
- The five were arrested on 28 August due to an alleged role in the Elgaar Parishad meeting
- The five activists – Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha are under arrest since 29 August
Three-Judge Bench to Pronounce Verdict on Activists' Arrests
A three judge Bench of the Supreme Court to pronounce the judgment in plea by historian Romila Thapar and others against the arrest of activists.
Two verdicts will be pronounced, one by the CJI and Justice Khanwilkar and the other by Justice Chandrachud.
Justice Khanwilkar Starts Reading Verdict
Justice AM Khanwilkar, while reading the judgment for himself and CJI Dipak Misra said the accused persons cannot choose which investigating agencies should investigate the matter.
He asserted that not a case of arrest because of difference in political organisation.
Justice Khanwilkar observed that the investigation officers were permitted to continue with the investigation.
House Arrest to Continue For Four Weeks
House arrest for the five activists will continue for the next four weeks. They can approach the trial court for relief.
SC Rejects Plea For SIT Probe in Bhima Koregaon Case
The Supreme Court rejected the plea for a SIT probe in the case.
Justice Chandrachud Dissents with Majority Judgment
Justice Chandrachud, while dissenting with the majority judgment, asserted that technicality should not be allowed to override substantive justice.
He added that voices of opposition could not be muzzled because it is a dissent.
Justice Chandrachud Berates Pune Police, Says SIT Probe Needed
Justice Chandrachud came down heavily on Pune Police. He questioned police’s move of holding a press conference immediately after the SC had passed an interim order.
The media meet of the police regarding the investigation cast a doubt on the impartiality of the investigation, Justice Chandrachud maintained. He added that police briefing to media had become a source of manipulating public opinion and an enquiry was required against Maharashtra police officers for utilising the media for the same.
Acts of Maharashtra police raise a question of whether Maharashtra police could be trusted to carry out the investigation, he added, stating that the case was a fit and proper one for a court-monitored SIT investigation.
Advocate Susan Abraham Welcomes SC Order
Advocate Susan Abraham, wife of activist Vernon Gonsalves welcomed the Supreme Court’s order.
Advocate Vrinda Grover Reacts to SC Order
Vrinda Grover, one of the lawyers, reacted to the apex court’s order saying that they will exercise legal rights of the arrested activists in the appropriate court.
Great Victory for Pune Police: Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis
Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis welcomed the SC’s decision.
“We welcome the decision. On the basis of investigation conducted and evidence collected by Pune Police, it has been considered valid and the Supreme Court has said it'll not interfere in the investigation,” he told reporters.
He added that it was a victory for Pune police and the country.
“The Supreme Court accepted that there is no political influence ans it’s not a plot to suppress voice of the opposition. It is a great victory for Pune police and the country. They've (activists) been doing this for many years but there was no evidence against them, so probe couldn't be completed,” Fadnavis said.
“Today’s verdict vindicates our stand against urban Maoists. In fact, this was absolutely a conspiracy against the nation. The Court pointed out that it's not a political conspiracy, and appreciated that state governmentt or government of India isn't trying to curb dissenting voice,” he added.
Congress Supports Maoists, Fake Activists: Amit Shah's Sharp Retort to Rahul Gandhi
Attacking the Congress for its alleged support to Maoists, fake activists and corrupt elements, BJP president Amit Shah Friday said "there is only one place for idiocy and it's called the Congress."
Shah was responding to a tweet posted by Congress president Rahul Gandhi on 28 August.
BJP's Sambit Patra Intensifies Attack on Rahul Gandhi
BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra attacked Rahul Gandhi for supporting the activists.
“This verdict is a loss and an indictment of the Congress. Rahul Gandhi was acting as an advocate for these arrested Maoists, so this judgment apart from exposing the Naxals and Maoists of the country has exposed Rahul Gandhi,” he said.
Supreme Court The Final Authority: Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala
Congress Spokesperson Randeep Surjewala while addressing the media said that the Supreme Court is the final authority on the matter. He hoped that the police acted in the interests of the nation and not on the direction of Amit Shah.
Petitioners Hold Press Conference on Arrested Activists' Extended House Arrest
The petitioners in the Bhima Koregaon violence case, on Friday, held a press conference in New Delhi after the Supreme Court extended the house arrest of the five activists accused of inciting violence.
Speaking to the media, they said that their aim was to draw the attention of the judiciary to the ‘gross’ misuse of the state’s powers.
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), an NGO, also released a statement saying that the court has failed to do its duty as a constitutional arbitrator and as the vanguard of the fundamental rights under.
The Court in its vague majority judgement has failed to do its duty as a Constitutional Arbitrator and as the vanguard of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India to protect the liberty of the dissenting activists - who have been arrested by the Pune police which unabashedly flouted due process.WSS Statement
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