SC extends house arrest of activists, criticises cop

SC extends house arrest of activists, criticises cop

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan addresses the media in New Delhi. The Supreme Court extended till September 12 the house arrest of five rights activists in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence. PTI

The Supreme Court on Thursday castigated the Maharashtra Police for addressing media on the arrests of five activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case, saying a senior police officer had tried to cast aspersions on the apex court for its decision on keeping the accused under house arrest.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, however, extended the period of house arrest of the five activists till September 12.

As the court took the writ petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and others, Justice Chandrachud was livid with the Maharashtra ADGP who addressed a press conference on August 30 explaining the reasons for the crackdown on human rights activist Gautam Navlakha, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, poet Varavara Rao, and other activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves.

“He was trying to make insinuations that what the SC did was wrong. You can't cast aspersions on Supreme Court like this. He was addressing the press conference and ruining the reputation of people,” Justice Chandrachud said. “You must tell your officer to be more responsible,” Justice Chandrachud told Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who apologised on behalf of the officer.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, representing complainant Tushar Gangude, questioned the locus standi of the petitioners, historian Thapar and others, in a criminal matter. Mehta contended that the activists have themselves explored alternative remedy. He also submitted that keeping the activists under house arrest would hamper the probe.

Senior advocate Abhishek M Singhvi, representing the petitioners, pointed out that one of the petitioners, Satish Deshpande, has been authorised by the activists to represent them and treat the instant writ petition as their own.

“The matter has to be argued with legal parameters,” the bench said, extending the house arrest of activists till Wednesday.