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SC Extends House Arrest Of Bhima Koregaon Activists, Turns Down Plea For SIT Probe

ANANYA BHATNAGAR | 0
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| September 28 , 2018 , 14:29 IST

The Supreme Court on Friday extended the house arrest of all the five accused and also turned down the plea to form a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the Bhima Koregaon Case.

A three-judge bench of the Supreme Court headed by the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and comprising of Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice AM Khanwilkar were hearing the matter. Justice Khanwilkar pronounced the majority opinion on behalf of CJI Dipak Misra and himself and Justice Chandrachud pronounced a deferred verdict.

Justice Khanwilkar held that accused persons do not have a say in which investigating agency should probe the case. He held that this was not a case of arrest merely because of political dissent. Therefore, the plea for an SIT was not entertained, with the accused given the liberty to pursue other appropriate remedies.

Justice Chandrachud giving a different opinion said that an SIT was necessary as Maharashtra police was biased in the matter. He made critical observations and said that the Pune police is biased and came down heaving on them for their conduct in the matter so far. He also berated the police for conducting a press conference immediately after the Court had passed an interim order.

He also highlighted the manner in which a letter alleged to have been written by Sudha Bharadwaj was flashed on Republic TV, after the police selectively disclosing details of the probe to the media. This, Justice Chandrachud held, cast a cloud over the fairness of the investigation.

Justice Chandrachud said, “Court has to be vigilant to ensure the liberty of those who take up unpopular causes.Voices of opposition cannot be muzzled because it is a dissent.”

He added, “If the Court does not stand by liberty, dignity, and dissent, it may as well compose a requiem for these rights.”

Citing the conduct of the Mahahrashtra Police, Chandrachud asserted for a SIT probe, raising questions on the fairness of investigation under the Pune Police jurisdiction.

Dissent Is The Safety Valve Of A Democracy; If You Don’t Allow Safety Valve, The Pressure Cooker Will Burst.

Earlier in August, Justice Chandrachud while hearing the case had said, “Amidst the fierce arguments between the petitioners and the respondents, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said, “Dissent is the safety valve of a democracy; If you don’t allow safety valve, the pressure cooker will burst.”

The matter was brought into the notice of the apex court by a batch of lawyers including senior advocate and Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Indira Jaising, Dushyant Dave, Raju Ramachandran, Amarendra Sharan and some others.

Who Are Arrested?

The arrested activists are Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha. These accused were placed under house arrest after the orders by the Supreme Court.

What Had Happened?

The Elgar Parishad event was organised to mark the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon which holds great significance for the Dalit community. In the battle, soldiers from the Mahar community considered to be Dalits, along with forces of the British East India Company defeated the Peshwas .

After the speeches by JNU Student Leaders Jignesh Mevani and Umar Khalid, protests broke out between Dalit groups and supporters of right-wing Hindutva groups, leaving one man dead, due to which there were even more wide-spread protests.