Bhima Koregaon raids: SC orders house arrest for activists till 6 Sept; calls dissent 'safety valve' of democracy

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Wednesday ordered that the five human rights activists, arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, be kept under house arrest till 6 September, saying dissent was the "safety valve" of democracy.

File image of Supreme Court of India. Reuters

File image of Supreme Court of India. Reuters

The five activists will now not be sent to jail till 6 September but will remain in house arrest under police watch. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra questioned the Maharashtra police for arresting these persons after around nine months of the Bhima Koregaon incident.

"Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don't allow these safety valves, it will burst," the bench, which also comprised Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said.

The apex court also issued notice to the Maharashtra state government and the state police on the plea filed by five intellectuals, including historian Romila Thapar and economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devika Jain, against the arrest of the rights activists Tuesday in connection with the case.

The counsel, appearing for Maharashtra, raised the issue of maintainability of the plea, saying a "stranger" cannot seek relief for the activists who have already approached the high courts.

Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, while activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha was arrested from New Delhi.

The Maharashtra Police had arrested them in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event - 'Elgaar Parishad' (conclave) held on 31 December 2018 that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

The bench posted the matter for hearing on 6 September.

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Updated Date: Aug 29, 2018 18:44:58 IST

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