Bhima Koregaon case: SC declines urgent hearing of Romila Thapar's review petition challenging denial of SIT probe into arrests

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined an urgent hearing of a review petition filed by historian Romila Thapar in the case of the arrests of five left-wing activists in relation to the Bhima Koregaon case.

Bar and Bench reported that Chief Justice of India (CJI) Ranjan Gogoi declined the review petition for urgent listing. According to ANI, the review petition filed by Thapar was in contention with the 28 September Supreme Court verdict which had refused the demand for a SIT probe to be conducted into the arrests of activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferriera, Sudha Bhardwaj, and Gautam Navlakha.

On 28 September, the apex court, headed by then-CJI Dipak Misra had extended the interim house arrest of the activists and also refused a SIT probe into the arrests. The bench directed the Maharashtra Police to continue with the investigation.

The court with a 2-1 majority had held that the investigation officers were to be permitted to continue with the investigation and that the accused persons have no say in seeking investigation of their choice. "They cannot choose the manner of arrest," Justice AM Khanwilkar had said, reading out the judgment on behalf of Misra and himself.

"Accused persons cannot choose which investigating agencies should investigate. This is not a case of arrest merely because of dissent or difference in political views," Justice Khanwilkar held in court.

Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested by the Maharashtra Police for their suspected Maoist link. Image courtesy: PTI and Wikimedia Commons

Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, and Arun Ferreira, who were arrested by the Maharashtra Police for their suspected Maoist link. PTI and Wikimedia Commons

The Supreme Court had declined to constitute a SIT for the case and said that the accused were at liberty to pursue other appropriate remedies. "We don't wish to go into the facts of the case as it may create prejudice," Justice Khanwilkar had stated.

However, Justice DY Chandrachud had presented a dissenting opinion, slamming the Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference and divulging details of the case. Justice Chandrachud had said "A letter alleged to be written by Sudha Bhardwaj was flashed on a TV channel. Acts of Maharashtra Police raise the question of whether it can be trusted to carry out the investigation," Chandrachud remarked.

"Voices of opposition cannot be muzzled because it is a dissent. Deprivation of liberty cannot be compensated later," Chandrachud said asking for a SIT to be constituted to look into the matter.

The Maharashtra police had arrested the activists on 28 August in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave — 'Elgaar Parishad' — held on 31 December 2017 that had later triggered violence at Bhima Koregaon village in the state. The apex court had on 19 September said it would look into the case with a "hawk's eye" as "liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures".

With inputs from agencies


Updated Date: Oct 24, 2018 13:22 PM

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