SC reserves judgement on plea against activists arrest

The top court was told to trust the trial courts and high courts and avoid impeding police investigation into the matter in which alleged letters were recovered for larger conspiracy to create law and order problem (PTI file photo)

The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved its judgement on a plea filed by historian Romila Thapar and others, challenging the arrest of activists by the Maharashtra police in the case related to Bhima Koregaon violence of 2017.

The top court was told to trust the trial courts and high courts and avoid impeding police investigation into the matter in which alleged letters were recovered for larger conspiracy to create law and order problem. The petitioners, however, sought a special investigation team probe into the arrest made on the basis of “foisted and cooked up evidence”.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud wrapped up the hearing where questions were also raised as to how the “letters” related to a purported plot to kill the Prime Minister by a Rajiv Gandhi type incident was leaked to the media how the senior police officer allegedly showed those documents in a live press conference.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Maharashtra government, contended no interference was required from the top court in the matter raised under the garb of PIL.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing the complainant, Tushar Gangude, contended if some wrong persons are arrested, the trial courts and the high courts can look into it but the investigation cannot be derailed at this moment. “One can have any ideology but the person cannot be permitted to create law and order problem or indulge in unlawful activities,” he said.

Salve cited the example of the 2G case, where then Telecom Minister A Raja and prominent people were arrested but the trial judge in his final judgement, he waited all these years for anybody to bring in evidence.

“What is this plea that you would not trust your government, CBI, NIA and the trial courts and the high courts, but would demand an SIT headed by retired judges,” he asked.

Senior advocates A M Singhvi and Anand Grover, representing the petitioners, submitted that the entire effort by the investigating agency was “to create a sub-text of real threat to the highest functionary of the government”.

The bench, during the hearing, also wondered if the evidences or materials can be examined by the top court, which can be the subject matter of trial. The court extended the period house arrest of five activists till the pronouncement of judgement. It asked the petitioners and others to file their written submissions by Saturday.

Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao, activists Vernon Gonzalves, Arun Ferreira, trade union activist and lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha were arrested by the Pune police from their respective homes, on August 28, in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event -- 'Elgaar Parishad' (conclave) -- held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon village.

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SC reserves judgement on plea against activists arrest

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