Bhima Koregaon arrests: Supreme Court extends house arrest order for activists; next hearing on 12 September

The Supreme Court hearing of Romila Thapar's petition in favour of the five activists arrested in relation to the Bhima Koregaon violence on Thursday has been adjourned till 12 September.

The apex court's order of house arrest for the activists was extended till the next hearing on 12 September. On 30 August, the Supreme Court had observed that "dissent is the safety valve of democracy" and directed that the activists — Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao — be kept under house arrest.

 Bhima Koregaon arrests: Supreme Court extends house arrest order for activists; next hearing on 12 September

File photo of protesters demonstrating against the arrests. PTI

"Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don't allow these safety valves, it will burst," a bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.

During the hearing on Thursday, the Supreme Court responded sharply to the statements made by ACP of the Pune Police, saying that he cast aspersions on the ability of the Supreme Court. Bar and Bench reported that Justice DY Chandrachud said to Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, that the ACP "insinuated" that the apex court "should not have intervened" in the current stage of the case. "He has no business saying that," Chandrachud said.

The court also directed the Maharashtra government to instruct the state police to be more responsible in dealing with the matter when it is being heard by the court. The Leaflet reported that Mehta, appearing for the government, apologised to the court on behalf of the police for having commented on the issue in a press conference while it was still sub judice.

The government, presenting its case, said that keeping the activists under house arrest would hamper the investigation in the case. According to Live Law, Mehta opposed the Thapar's petition and said that "third parties" don't have the right to file a petition in an on-going investigation. He added that there were "serious" charges against the arrested activists.

In response, the Supreme Court questioned Abhishek Singhvi, who appeared on behalf of the petitioners, about whether a third party can intervene in a criminal case.

On Wednesday, the Maharashtra government had told the Supreme Court that the five rights activists were arrested due to the evidence linking them with the banned CPI (Maoist) and not because of their dissenting views. The police said there was sufficient evidence to "dispel" the claim that they were arrested for their dissenting views.

With inputs from PTI

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Updated Date: Sep 06, 2018 14:14:52 IST