Koregaon-Bhima violence: House arrest of 5 activists extended till Sept 19

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday extended the house arrest of the five rights activists till September 19. The SC said it will examine whether there is material supporting the arrests in the Koregaon-Bhima violence case.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra extended the house arrest of the five rights activists–Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha– at their respective homes.

“Every criminal investigation is based on allegations and we have to see whether there is some material,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

The bench said if there are some grave lapses, it may consider prayers like investigation by a Special Investigating Team (SIT) into the case. The plea by Thapar and others has sought an independent probe into the arrests and the immediate release of the five activists.

The bench fixed the plea by Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala for final hearing on Wednesday.

The apex court had on September 12 extended the house arrest of the activists till today.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra government, said the court should make it clear that after adjudication by it, the arrested accused cannot avail remedies simultaneously on similar issues at other judicial fora.

The Maharashtra police had arrested the rights activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ — held on December 31 last year that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

Prominent Telugu poet Rao was arrested on August 28 from Hyderabad, while activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Navlakha from Delhi.

The Supreme Court had on September 6 taken strong exception to the statement of a senior police officer on the arrest of the activists, saying he had cast “aspersions” on the top court.

An irked court had referred to the statements made to the media by an Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune and said he was casting aspersions on the apex court by saying it should not have entertained the petition against the arrests.

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