The Supreme Court today (August 29th, 2018) has refused to stay the arrest of five prominent human rights activist by Pune police for alleged Maoists links after raids across five states were carried out on August 28th, 2018.
The Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra has issued a notice to Maharashtra government and Pune police seeking their response and directed the Pune police to keep activist under house arrest till next hearing, which is on Thursday next week (September 6th, 2018).
The petition was filed by academician Romila Thapar and four rights activists, namely, Devki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maya Daruwala challenging the arrest of the activists.
Earlier today, senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising appeared before the CJI Misra when he assembled with other judges for a Constitution bench hearing. Adv. Singhvi said that the extraordinary situation made it necessary for him to mention the matter before a Constitution bench. However, as the CJI Misra could not take up any urgent matter while he heads a Constitution bench, he asked Adv. Singhvi and others to come back at 3.45 pm before a three-judge bench.
The petitioners pleaded in the court to stay the arrest of the activists and hold an independent inquiry. They also urged the court to seek an explanation from Maharashtra for “sweeping round of arrests” in the case, reported PTI.
Lawyer and trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj, revolutionary poet P Varavara Rao, civil rights activist and journalist Gautam Navlakha, and lawyers and activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves were arrested and charged with criminal conspiracy, creating fear and enmity between various groups, and under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.
The arrests were part of an investigation into the violence that rocked Bhima Koregaon in Maharashtra on January 1, 2018, during the bicentennial celebration of a British-era war.