New Delhi: A day after the pan India crackdown on Left-wing activists, the action shifted to the courts today with the Supreme Court giving urgent hearing to a plea against the arrests in the afternoon and three of the five who were nabbed to be produced before a Pune court. Also Read - Amid Lockdown, Supreme Court Issues Notice to Centre on Plea Seeking Payment of Wages to Migrant Workers
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) stepped into the growing controversy over the arrests of Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha, saying “it appears” that standard operating procedure was not properly followed and this may amount to a violation of their human rights. Also Read - Stick to Official Sources, Avoid Misinformation: Supreme Court Tells Media Outlets
It issued notices to the Maharashtra government and the state’s police chief and for a ‘factual report’ in the matter within four weeks. Also Read - Migrant Exodus: 'Providing Food to 23 Lakh People,' Centre Tells SC; Says 'Fake News' Biggest Challenge
Telugu poet Rao and activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were taken to Pune late last night and are likely to be produced in a court later in the day, a senior police official in Pune said.
The other two arrested for their suspected links with Maoists were trade unionist and lawyer Bharadwaj in Faridabad and civil liberties activist Navlakha in Delhi.
Navlakha and Bharadwaj are confined to their homes, under the guard of police officers, and allowed to meet only their lawyers.
Eminent historian Romila Thapar and four others have moved the apex court against the arrests by the Maharashtra Police.
The petition was mentioned before a five-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra which agreed to give an urgent hearing today itself at 3.45 pm.
The petition, which was mentioned by senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, seeks the release of all five and an independent probe into the arrests.
In a parallel development, the Delhi High Court will hear Navlakha’s plea in the afternoon after the Maharashtra Police submitted that translated documents of the case were not ready.
“The entire case is a political ploy against political dissent by this vindictive and cowardly government, which is bent upon shielding the real culprits of Bhima Koregaon and thus divert attention from its own scams and failures which stretch from Kashmir to Kerala,” Navlakha said in a statement issued by the civil rights group People’s Union for Democratic Rights of which he is a part.
Heavy security was deployed outside his heavily barricaded Nehru Enclave residence. No outsiders were allowed inside and several media vans were stationed outside.
Navlakha’s transit remand was secured from the Saket district court to take him to Pune. The order, however, was stayed by the high court.