New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on Friday deliver its verdict on a plea challenging the arrest of five left-wing activists for their suspected Maoist links and their alleged involvement in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case. Also Read - Don't Want to Deal With Something The Govt Already Tackling, Says SC on Plea Over Migrant Workers' Plight
The top court had on September 20 reserved its order on the petition by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of the five rights activists – Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha – and an SIT probe into their arrest. Also Read - COVID-19 Lockdown: Supreme Court to Hear Plea on Migrant Workers on Monday
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, also comprising Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud, had then asked the Maharashtra police to file their case diary pertaining to the ongoing investigation in the case by September 24. Also Read - Amid Lockdown, Supreme Court Grants Rs 4 Lakh to Woman Rendered Homeless
During the hearing, the court asked the Maharashtra government to place before it the “best documents available” as most of the material referred by it were “more like conjectures.”
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. Since then, the activists are under arrest at their respective homes.
Questioning the veracity of the evidence produced by the Maharashtra Police on the arrests, the court had said it may also consider setting up a special investigation team (SIT) for a probe into the activists’ arrests if prima facie ground is established against their involvement.
The court also hinted at quashing the case if evidence against the arrested activists proved to be cooked up by Maharashtra Police.
Opposing the top court’s “interference”, the Centre said “Every case can’t come to the Supreme Court. It is a wrong procedure. Then every case will come to the Supreme Court.”
The Maharashtra government contended before the court that the petitioners were “strangers” to the matter and questioned their locus. Its counsel had said there was enough evidence including the materials taken from the activists’ computers and other sources which belied the perception of the petitioners about those arrested.
Earlier, the Maharashtra government had filed its response to the plea claiming the five activists were arrested due to the cogent evidence linking them with the banned CPI (Maoist) and not because of their dissenting views.
The state’s response had come in the backdrop of the apex court, while ordering the house arrest of the five activists on August 29, categorically stating that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy”.
The court had questioned the state police’s move to arrest these activists nine months after the incident and said all of them were reputed citizens and “stifling the dissent” was not good.