The Supreme Court on Friday rejected the demand for an independent probe in the arrest of five activists — Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha — in the Elgaar Parishad case. Adding that the activists’ arrests were not made merely for “dissent and differences in ideology,” the three-judge bench in a 2-1 verdict ruled that the house arrest will continue for four more weeks.
Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar observed that the “accused persons have no say in seeking investigation of their choice and cannot choose the manner of arrest.” Justice D Y Chandrachud, the third judge on the bench penned a dissenting view and said an independent probe should have been allowed. He also criticised the Pune police for holding a press conference as the court proceedings were underway. “This is a fit and proper case for Court-monitored SIT investigation. Conduct of Pune Police fortifies an impression that investigation is not fair,” he said.
The activists have been under house arrest since the police held them on August 28 while probing an alleged Maoist link to a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on the eve of the January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon.