The Supreme Court on September 20, 2018, reserved its verdict on a plea filed by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of five rights activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case
A Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra
and comprising of Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud
reserved the judgment after counsel for both parties including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta concluded their submissions. The bench has asked the Maharashtra police to file their case diary pertaining to the ongoing investigation in the case by September 24, 2018. It also asked the parties to file their written submissions by then.
The five activists --Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha-- are under arrest at their respective homes since August 29, 2018
. The plea filed by Mr. Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala has sought an independent probe into the arrests and the immediate release of the five activists. The Maharashtra police had arrested the rights activists on August 28, 2018, in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave 'Elgaar Parishad' held on December 31, 2017, that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village. Earlier, on September 19, 2018, the apex court had said that it would look into the case with a hawk's eye as liberty cannot be "sacrificed at the altar of conjectures". It had told the Maharashtra government that there should be a clear-cut distinction between opposition and dissent on one hand and attempts to create disturbance, law and order problems or overthrow the government on the other. Senior advocate Anand Grover, Ashwini Kumar and advocate Prashant Bhushan also alleged that the entire case was cooked up. To which the apex court had said that it may order an SIT probe if it found that the evidence has been "cooked up".