SC Reserves Order on Petitions Against Activists’ Arrests
SC Reserves Order on Petitions Against Activists’ Arrests
(Photo: Shruti Mathur/The Quint)

SC Reserves Order on Petitions Against Activists’ Arrests

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 20 September reserved its order on the petitions filed by Romila Thapar and others challenging the arrest of activists. The court also asked parties to file their written notes by Monday.

Hearing the Bhima Koregaon case on Wednesday, 19 September, Justice Chandrachud had said that the court “cannot sacrifice liberty on the basis of conjectures.” He also told ASG Tushar Mehta to present one document that shows the involvement of the five arrested activists.

The apex court last week had adjourned the hearing on a petition seeking the release and an independent inquiry into the arrest of five activists till Wednesday. The apex court had also agreed to go through the material submitted by both sides.


  • On 6 September, the top court had reprimanded the Maharashtra Police over their press conference, saying that they cannot make statements in the press
  • The SC had directed that the five activists should be kept under house arrest until 19 September
  • A PIL was filed against members of Maharashtra Police on 4 September for participating in the press conference

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Human Rights Activist Anand Teltumbde's Residence Raided

Human rights activist Anand Teltumbde, whose house was searched by the Maharashtra police as part of multi-city raids, said he was not even remotely connected to the allegations levelled against him.

Sources in the Goa police said a team from the Maharashtra police searched Teltumbde's residence in Sankhalim village, 40km from here, today, but left soon as he was not at home.

Asked to comment on the police action, Teltumbde, a professor of data analytics at the Goa Institute of Management (GIM), said he is not even remotely connected to the allegations levelled against him.

"What reaction shall I give to you? There is nothing,” he said.

Brazen Attack on Democratic Rights: Sitaram Yechury

Condemning the police raids on prominent Left-wing activists in several states, the CPI(M) on Tuesday accused the BJP-led Centre of "attacking the democratic rights of people" in a bid to shield the real culprits of Koregaon-Bhima violence.

"This is a brazen attack on democratic rights and liberties. The BJP government is desperately trying to protect the culprits by harassing civil and human rights activist. This is very dangerous trend for our democracy," CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury told reporters in Kolkata.

Social Activist Sten Swami's Residence Raided

A police team from Maharashtra on Tuesday raided social activist Sten Swami's residence here and seized his computer in connection with the probe into the Bhima Koregaon violence, a police officer said.

The eight-member Pune Police team questioned Swami, seized his computer, mobile phone and several documents from his residence, Superintendent of Police (Rural) Ajit Peter Dungdung said. The team was assisted by the state police and the inquiry was on, he said.

Swami is known to be close to the Left political party CPI-ML (Liberation).

Arrests Shouldn't be Politically Motivated: Maharashtra Congress

The government must take action against culprits but its steps should not be politically motivated, the Maharashtra Congress said on the arrest of five prominent Left-wing activists on Tuesday.

"Truth must come out before the people. The government must go to the root of the issue. Culprits, if there are any, should be caught. But the action should not be politically motivated," Maharashtra Congress general secretary Sachin Sawant said.

Court Stays Sudha Bhardwaj's Transit Remand

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Tuesday stayed the transit remand of activist Sudha Bhardwaj, who was arrested from Faridabad after the Maharashtra Police raided the homes of prominent Left-wing activists in several states for their suspected Maoist links.

Justice Arvind Singh Sangwan heard the habeas corpus writ petition, advocate Ankit Agarwal said.

Police Recovers Maoist's Letter Hailing Varavara Rao's Guidance

A letter purportedly written by a Maoist leader and seized by the police in April this year hails prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao for his alleged "guidance" in various Naxal activities in the country.

The letter in question was part of a bunch of documents seized by the Pune police during the searches at the premises of five people arrested in June this year for alleged links with Maoists. The searches were carried out in different parts of the country in April.

The letter written in Hindi by one comrade named Milind, hails Rao, described as a "senior comrade", and advocate Surendra Gadling for their "guidance" in carrying out Naxal activities in various parts of the country.

Complete Violation of Court Order: Sudha Bharadwaj's Lawyer

Sudha Bharadwaj’s lawyer, while addressing the media, said that she was taken into custody despite court’s order against it.

“Transit bail application was dismissed. Had informed CJM that HC in Chandigarh intervened and passed interim order that Pune police won't take her under custody and she'll be under house arrest for three days. The matter will once again be taken up before the High Court in Chandigarh after three days. Still, the Pune police arrested her, it's a complete violation of the order of the High Court,” said the lawyer.

Sudha Bharadwaj To Be Kept Under House Arrest till 30 August: CJM

Chief Judicial Magistrate, Faridabad recalled the transit remand issued earlier. Sudha Bharadwaj will be kept under house arrest at her home in Badarpur border.

Speaking to ANI, Faridabad DCP, Nitika Gahlaut said that Sudha Bharadwaj will be produced in court on Thursday, 30 August. She also mentioned that Bharadwaj is barred from talking to the media and is under police supervision.

Police Tried Taking Sudha Bharadwaj to the Airport Despite Court Order: Vrinda Grover

Vrinda Grover, while speaking to the media said that the police tried to take Sudha Bharadwaj to the airport despite the court order.

“Despite the order having reached the SHO of Surajkund and Inspector Shinde of the Pune police, it was shocking that the police still tried to take her to the airport,” said Grover, as quoted by Bar & Bench.

Arrests Made Under Government's Pressure: Vernon Gonsalves' Wife

Susan Abraham, wife of Vernon Gonsalves who was arrested on Tuesday, said that the raids are being conducted under government’s pressure.

“This is being done under government's pressure. If you think Bhima Koregaon was an assassination plot, then file an FIR. You've made this case, will it stand before the court?,” she said.


Petition Challenging Arrest to Be Filed in SC

Senior lawyers Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Dushyant Dave, Indira Jaising, Prashant Bhushan and Raju Ramachandran and Vrinda Grover present in CJI’s court to mention matter against arrests in Bhima Koregaon case, media reports.

The petition has been filed by historian Romila Thapar, Devki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maya Daruwala who have sought an independent investigation into the arrest of human rights activists and their immediate release.

Rahul Gandhi Hits Out at RSS

Congress President Rahul Gandhi hit out at RSS saying, “There is only one NGO in India and it’s called RSS.”


3 Activists to Be Produced in Court Today

Pune police is likely to present arrested activists Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao in a Pune court seeking their police custody, reported The Hindu.

Oxfam, Amnesty International Condemn the Arrests

Reacting to the arrests, global human rights organisation Amnesty International and Oxfam India, in a joint statement, said the nationwide crackdown was disturbing and threatens core human rights values.

“These arrests cannot become the order of the day. The government should protect people’s rights to freedom of expression, association, and peaceful assembly instead of creating an atmosphere of fear,” said Amitabh Behar, CEO, Oxfam India


SC to Hear the Matter at 3:45 pm

The apex court has agreed to hear the petition challenging the arrest of human right activists and lawyers in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case at 3:45 pm, reported Live Law.


Delhi HC to Hear Gautam Navlakha's Matter at 2:15 pm

Delhi High Court to hear the matter pertaining to Gautam Navlakha’s transit remand at 2:15pm today, reported ANI. Court asks the counsel for police to file the documents till 12 noon.

Activists and Professors Protest in Hyderabad

Activists and professors have organised a protest in Hyderabad demanding the release of arrested activist Varavara Rao in connection with Bhima Koregaon violence.

NHRC issues notice to Maharashtra Government

National Human Rights Commission issues notice to Maharashtra government over the arrest of 5 activists in connection with Bhima-Koregaon violence.

In its notice to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, the Commission has said, that proper procedure was not followed by the police in the arrests and has asked for a report within four weeks.

Reacting to the notice, Maharashtra minister Deepak Vasant Kesarkar told News18 that the arrests were not politically motivated. He also added that this fight is for the country and naxalism is a major threat to the country.

Pune Police Operation to Arrest Varavara Rao 'Illegal': Family Member

The arrest of poet and writer Varavara Rao and searches in his two daughters residences were "illegal", claimed a family member, reported PTI.

N Venugopal alleged that the Pune Police did not produce arrest and search warrants against his maternal uncle Rao.

Hearing on Gautam Navlakha's Transit Remand Begins

The Delhi High Court has started the hearing in the matter pertaining to Gautam Navlakha’s transit remand.

Gautam Navlakha's counsel told the high court that they have received translated documents including FIR from Maharashtra Police.


Delhi High Court Postpones Hearing on Navlakha's Plea

The Delhi High Court has postponed the hearing on Gautam Navlakha’s plea, media reports. The next hearing is likely to happen at 3: 30 pm.

Those Speaking Against Human Rights are Being Targeted: Sudha Bharadwaj

Trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, who was picked up by the Maharashtra Police for her suspected links with Maoists said those speaking against human rights violation and fighting for the rights of Dalits and tribals are being targeted by the "present regime".


Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves & Varavara Rao Arrive at Pune Court

All three left-wing activists, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Varavara Rao have been presented by the police at Pune court.

They were presented at the court of district and sessions judge K D Vadhane.

The court was jam-packed with heavy police bandobast outside, reported PTI.

Yechury Calls for Protest Against Arrests

CPI(M) member Sitaram Yechury called for a joint protest by all Left parties against the arrests of the activists. Speaking to ANI, he said:

There will be a protest at Jantar Mantar (Delhi) tomorrow by the Left and all progressive groups against the unethical crackdown.

Delhi HC Begins Hearing Navlakha's Plea

The Delhi High Court, which had deferred the hearing in Navlakha’s plea till 3.30 pm, has resumed the hearing, reported Bar and Bench. ASG Aman Lekhi is representing the Maharashtra Police in the case.

Judge S Muralidhar reportedly questioned why Navlakha’s arrest memo was in Marathi, and how the said accused was to “understand the reasons behind his arrest.”

Judge Muralidhar also reportedly questioned the credibility of the witnesses to the arrest, observing that they had accompanied the Maharashtra police and were not local residents or relatives of Navlakha.

In response to Judge Muralidhar, ASG Aman Lekhi submits that all efforts were made to make Navlakha understand the reasons for his arrest, reported Live Law.


3-Judge SC Bench to Begin Hearing Plea Against Activists' Arrests

A three-judge bench of headed by CJI Dipak Misra will begin hearing the plea filed by Romila Thappar and others pertaining to the arrest of the five activists. ASG Tushar Mehta will reportedly represent Maharashtra Police.

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi is meanwhile representing the petitioners.


Court Will Examine Navlakha's Transit Remand: Delhi HC

Hearing a plea against Gautam Navlakha’s transit remand to Pune, the Delhi High Court has reportedly observed that the court will examine the legality of the transit remand, as well as the legality of Navlakha’s arrest, based on the documents placed before it.

“No court should pass a mechanical order”, observed Judge J Muralidhar, as quoted by Bar and Bench.

ASG Aman Lekhi, in response, argued that the documents had been orally translated for the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate at the time of the application for the transit remand.

NCP's Sharad Pawar Addresses the Press on the Arrests of Activists

"We are Moving Towawrds Emergency": Lalu Yadav

Former Bihar Chief Minister Lalu Prasad Yadav condemned the arrests of the activists, stating that the country was moving towards a dictatorship.

This country is moving towards dictatorship. The arrests of the five intellectuals show that the country is moving towards emergency and I condemn it.

"FIR Has No Mention of Activists Arrested": Advocate AM Singhvi

Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the petitioners in the Supreme Court, argued that the FIR filed by the Pune Police made no mention of the five activists who were arrested.

“The larger issue is the chilling effect merely because one does not agree with you (government),” argued Advocate Singhvi, as quoted by Bar and Bench.

ASG Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra Police in the case, has reportedly opposed the petition.

Meanwhile, insisting for a stay on the arrests, Singhvi argued that the case jeopardised civil liberties.

SC Issues Notice to Maharashtra Police, Seeks Response

The SC bench has reportedly issued a notice to the Maharashtra Police, and sought response from the government by Wednesday.

Advocate Singhvi, representing the petitioners, states that arrests of such manner indicated the end of democracy – pressing for a stay on the arrests.

Meanwhile, ASG Mehta objects to the petition, claiming that it has been filed by ‘strangers’. Justice Chandrachud rebukes angrily: “This is a wider issue. Their problem is quelling dissent. Dissent is the safety valve of democracy. If not allowed, the safety valve will burst.”

SC Orders House Arrest for All Five Activists

The Supreme Court has ordered that all five activists be kept under house arrest till 6 September, when the court will decide on the matter next. There will also be a stay on their transit remand till then, it added.

Pune Police Addresses Press Conference on Arrest of Five Activists

Delhi HC Halts Proceedings on Navlakha's Transit Remand

Taking the Supreme Court order into account, the Delhi High Court has halted the proceedings pertaining to Gautam Navlakha’s transit remand.

The court has said it would not be appropriate for them to pass an order as the Supreme Court had already passed an order in a similar petition.

Senior Lawyer Prashant Bhushan Addresses Press on SC Proceedings

Senior Lawyer Vrinda Grover Explains What Happens on 6 September

Supreme Court Orders House Arrest for All Arrested Activists

The Supreme Court has ordered that all five arrested activists be placed under house arrest till 6 September, when the court will hear the matter next.

Read the order below:

Arrested Activist Vernon Gonsalves's Wife Hails SC Order

Arrested activist Vernon Gonsalves’s wife Susan Abraham hailed the Supreme Court’s decision, calling it “positive sign” from the apex court.

Abraham, an advocate herself, said:

There are positive signs from the Supreme Court, Delhi high court. These arrests are clearly politically motivated.

Arun Pereira, Vernon Gonsalves Taken To Their Residences

Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were taken to their residences in Thane and Mumbai respectively following Supreme Court's direction to keep the five, arrested activists under house arrest till 5 September.

Varavara Rao To Be Taken to Hyderabad

Varvara Rao was brought out of Vishrambaug Police Station in Pune. He will be taken to his house in Hyderabad following Supreme Court's direction to keep the five arrested activists under house arrest till 5 September.

Activists, Authors Condemn Arrest, Hold Press Conference

Maharashtra Police Brief the Press on the Arrests

Addressing a press conference, PB Singh, ADG of Maharashtra Police said they had “enough evidence” to prove that the five arrested accused were linked to Maoists.

When we were confident that clear links have been established then only we moved to take action against these people, in different cities. Evidence clearly establishes their roles with Maoists.

He said investigation had revealed the accused were associated with Kabir Kala Manch. He added that action was taken based on a complaint lodged on 8 January, alleging hate speeches at an event held on 31 December 2017.

Singh also said that investigation had revealed a big controversy by the Maoists, which was being facilitated by the arrested activists. Citing letters that were allegedly written by the activists, Singh alleged there was a planned conspiracy to create chaos through the Bhima-Koregaon violence.

Surendra Gadling's Wife Moves SC for His House Arrest

Surendra Gadling’s wfie has moved the Supreme Court seeking bail for her husband and four others, arrested by Pune police earlier in June.

In her petition she claimed that since SC gave relief to persons arrested this week, similar relief should be given to them as they have been arrested under same FIR . The court may take up the matter on 6 September.

Bombay HC Questions Maharashtra Police's Press Briefing

The Bombay High Court, on 3 September, questioned the Maharashtra police’s press conference on the recent arrests of activists and authors, asking why a case that was sub-judice merited a press briefing.

PIL Filed Against Maharashtra Cops Who Participated in Press Conference on Activists Case

Advocate Nitin Satpute has filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against Parambir Singh ADG (law and order), Maharashtra and other police officers who were part of the press conference that was held with regards to the Elgar Parishad matter. The PIL will be heard on 7 September.

According to Satpute, the matter concerns the security of the country but despite that, the Maharashtra Police went ahead and disclosed details of the investigation.


Not Curbing Dissent, Have Evidence: Maharashtra Govt on Activists’ Arrest

On 5 September, the Maharashtra government had submitted a strong rebuttal in the SC saying the five activists were arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case not due to their "dissent" or "difference in their political or other ideologies."

In the affidavit, the state government said, "They are involved in not only planning and preparing for violence but were in the process of creating large-scale violence, destruction of property, resulting into chaos in the society."

Revealing that the police is in possession of compelling evidence against the activists, the affidavit added, “This Hon’ble Court is dealing with persons against whom cogent evidence has so far come on record, showing that they are active members of the banned terrorist organisation namely, Communist Party of India (Maoist).”


SC Extends House Arrest of Five Activists Till 12 Sept, Reprimands Maha Police Over Press Conference

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 6 September, extended the house arrest of the five activists till 12 September in the Bhima Koregaon case. The top court also reprimanded the Maharashtra Police over their press conference, reportedly saying that they canot make statements in the press when the court is seized of the matter, as it affects the reputation of the people.

The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took umbrage over the statements given by the Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune on the matter, saying he was casting aspersions on the court.

The bench, which also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, told the Maharashtra government to make its police officials "more responsible" on matters pending before the court, reported PTI.

“You must ask your police officials to be more responsible. The matter is before us and we don’t want to hear from police officials that the Supreme Court is wrong,” the bench told ASG Tushar Mehta, who was appearing for Maharashtra government.

The bench also asked petitioner Romila Thapar and others to satisfy it on whether a third party could intervene in a criminal case.

Meanwhile, Mehta told the bench that keeping the activists under house arrest would hamper the ongoing investigation.

The bench posted the matter for further hearing on 12 September.

House Arrest of Activists Extended till 17 September

The Supreme Court has extended the house arrest for five activists till Monday, 17 September, PTI reported. The court will hear a petition seeking their release on Monday.

The petition by historian Romila Thapar and four others has challenged last month's arrest of the five activists that sparked a chorus of outraged protests from human rights defenders.


Centre Intervenes, Asks SC to Resist 'Entertaining Petitions'

The Centre has reportedly intervened in the case, requesting the Supreme Court from ‘entertaining the petitions’ filed by human rights activists on behalf of the five arrested activists. The Centre further requested that the matter be handled by the respective district magistrates.

Responding to Centre, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi appearing on behalf of the petitioners, said “We are here with a plea for independent enquiry. SC in several cases have ordered such probe based on similar petition. No questions of locus here. SC has every jurisdiction.”

Meanwhile, ASG Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre questioned the way the petitioners had directly approached the Supreme Court, said, "they have options to approach the lower court, high courts or even other legal options to seek redressal."

The CJI in turn observed: We entertained the case on the foundations of liberty. Issues like independent enquiry, etc, comes at a later stage."


'Strong Evidence to Prove Involvement in Crimes': ASG Mehta

ASG Tushar Mehta, arguing on behalf of the Maharashtra Police said there was strong evidence to show that the arrested activists were involved in “serious crimes.”

Further, the ASG cited the cases in other courts against the activists in connection to their arrests, asking them to withdraw their proceedings. However, AM Singhvi, arguing on behalf of the petitioners, said the cases had already been halted owing to the SC’s interim order with respect to the activists’ house arrest.

Singhvi then submitted to the court that the case be properly probed by a Special Investigation Team (SIT) or there be a court monitored probe.


No Mention of PM Assassination Plot in FIR: Singhvi

Arguing on behalf of the petitioners, AM Singhvi said that though the arrests had been made based on reports that the case was related to the alleged plot to assassinate PM Modi, no mention of this had been made in the FIR.

Live Law reported Singhvi as asking:

Why aren’t NIA or CBI investigating, if case related to such a serious charge.

SC Agrees to Go Through Material Collected By Pune Police, Adjourns Matter for Wednesday

SC has agreed to go through the material collected by Pune police against the five arrested human rights activists, who have been ordered to be kept under house arrest, reported Times of India.

The apex court has now adjourned the matter till Wednesday, agreeing to go through the material of both sides. The Central government will submit its case diary and other evidences on that day.

Supreme Court Begins Hearing in Activists’ Arrest Case

The Supreme Court on Wednesday, 19 September resumed hearing in the case of five activists arrested by the Maharashtra Police for their alleged role in the Bhima Koregaon violence and for their alleged Maoist links.

Abhishek Manu Singhvi Demands SIT Probe

Abhishek Manu Singhvi – defending the activists – demanded setting up a probe by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) saying that the case is based on cooked up evidence and the letters produced before the court appear to be fabricated, Firstpost reported.

Complainant Hires Former Attorney General Harish Salve as His Lawyer

Tushar Damgude, whose FIR against organisers of Elgar Parishad led to the arrest of five activists, is being represented by senior advocate and former attorney general of India Harish Salve, Firstpost reported.


Present One Document Showing Involvement of Activists: SC

Hearing the Bhima Koregaon case, Justice Chandrachud said one “cannot sacrifice liberty on the basis of conjecture.” He added that under Article 32, the court has to look at things with a hawk’s eye.

He also told ASG Tushar Mehta to present one document that shows the involvement of the five arrested activists.

The court came down heavily on the ASG and asked him not to produce seminar related document.

“One may not agree with them but doesn’t mean harmful,” Chandrachud said.

“Let us make a clear-cut distinction between an opposition and attempts to create disturbance, overthrow government etc..your documents also name universities, prominent social science institute. Are they all involved?,” Chandrachud reportedly asked the ASG.

SC Reserves Order on Petitions Against Activists' Arrests

The Supreme Court on Thursday, 20 September reserved its order on the petitions filed by Romila Thapar and others challenging the arrest of activists. The court has also asked parties to file their written notes by Monday.

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