Will look into arrest of five activists in Koregaon-Bhima case with a ‘hawks eye’: SC

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NEW DELHI, Sept 19 (PTI): The Supreme Court Wednesday said it would look into the Koregaon-Bhima case involving the arrest of five activists with a “hawk’s eye” as liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures, even as it extended their house arrest for a day.

The top court told the Maharashtra government that there should be a clear-cut distinction between opposition and dissent on one hand and the attempts to create disturbance, law and order problems and overthrow the government on the other.

“Our institutions must be robust enough to accommodate any dissent or opposition to the system or even to this court. We cannot sacrifice liberty at the altar of conjectures,”a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.

The apex court extended till Thursday the house arrest of five rights activists –Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha– at their respective homes.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra, said “as a nation, we should be concerned at this. It is too serious a matter. I request the court to form an opinion only after hearing the matter in full.”

To this, Justice Chandrachud said “Yes, we will do that, but our mind is human” and added “We will look at this case with a hawks eye”.

The court said it would go through the case diary and other relevant materials before forming any opinion.

The Maharashtra police had arrested the rights activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ — held on December 31 last year that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

Prominent Telugu poet Rao was arrested on August 28 from Hyderabad, while activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Navlakha from Delhi.

 

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