Petitioners: vindicated by SC verdict on activists

Petitioners: vindicated by SC verdict on activists

Activists address the media during a press conference on Supreme Court's verdict in relation with Koregaon-Bhima violence arrests, in New Delhi, on Friday. PTI

Five petitioners, including eminent historian Romila Thapar and economist Prabhat Patnaik, for the five activists arrested in Bhima Koregaon case on Friday, said the Supreme Court order vindicated their position as it found the police claims "ambiguous" to order arrests.

The comments by petitioners, Thapar, Patnaik, Devaki Jain, Maja Daruwala and Satish Deshpande, came after the Supreme Court in a majority order refused to entertain their demand for a probe by a Special Investigation Team though while extending their house arrest by another four weeks and not allowing police to take them in their custody.

"Our demand was for a better, fair, independent investigation. Our prayer was not to investigate and SIT is not an unknown remedy to the Supreme Court," their lawyer Vrinda Grover said adding the arrested activists have multiple legal remedies and they will avail those at the appropriate time.

The Maharashtra Police on August 28 arrested human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Vernon Gonsalves, Gautam Navlakha and Arun Ferreira and poet-journalist Varavara Rao while they also searched premises of other activists, including Anand Teltumbde and Father Stan Swamy in connection with a probe into Bhima Koregaon violence. They were accused of having links with Maoists.

In the joint statement read out by Thapar at a press conference, they said, "today's judgement has provided protection to the activists for a further period of four weeks and has given them the liberty to seek remedy from the appropriate courts."

The activists highlighted the minority judgement by Justice D Y Chandrachud, saying their stand found vindicated as the judge noted that liberty cannot be sacrificed at the "altar of conjecture and that the police had been taking liberties with the truth and besmirching the reputation of the activists by doing a media trial".

The joint statement also said, "when the state uses anti-terror laws without adequate proof against persons known to be working for the rights of the weaker sections of society, it is also spreading a kind of terror. Arbitrary arrests on implausible charges, like those of August 28 are a source of anxiety for us all."