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Posted at: Sep 13, 2018, 1:33 AM; last updated: Sep 13, 2018, 1:33 AM (IST)

SC extends house arrest of activists, hearing on Sept 17

SC extends house arrest of  activists, hearing on Sept 17
(L-R) Activists Varavara Rao, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested for alleged Maoist links and in connection with Koregaon-Bhima violence.

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 12

The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the house arrest of five activists arrested in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case for another five days.

A three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra deferred to September 17 the hearing on the plea filed by five intellectuals, including historian Romila Thapar, after it was informed that senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing the petitioners, was busy in another court.

Earlier, Singhvi had appeared before the Bench and said the matter could be taken up in the post lunch session as he had to appear in another case.

In a pan-India crackdown on August 28, poet Varavara Rao was arrested in Hyderabad, activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, trade unionist and lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj in Faridabad and Chhattisgarh and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha in Delhi for suspected Maoist links.

The police said the arrested activists were not being indicted in the FIR for the first time but some had past “criminal antecedents” and were imprisoned. The whole process of search of the activists in June, including Rona Wilson, Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale and others had been videographed, the police said.

The Maharashtra Police alleged that the arrested activists were planning to carry out violence in the country and ambush security forces and the raids were part of a probe into a conclave — Elgar Parishad — held in Bhima-Koregaon, near Pune, on December 31, 2017, which had allegedly triggered violence the next day.

Acting on a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociologist Satish Deshpande and Commonwealth human rights initiative senior adviser Maja Daruwala, the top court had on August 29 had restrained the police from taking them into their custody and ordered their house arrest.

The top court had last week taken strong exception to the Pune Police press briefing on the arrest of five activists, saying they (police) tried to insinuate the court. The Maharashtra Police have questioned the locus standi of the five petitioners in the case.

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