"Will Intervene If Needed," Says Top Court On Activists' Arrest: 10 Facts

A petition in the Supreme Court challenged the arrest of the five activists that sparked a chorus of outraged protests from human rights defenders.

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Five activists were arrested in multi-city raids in August. (File)

New Delhi:  The Supreme Court has extended the house arrest for five rights activists, accused of Maoist links, till September 19 when it will hear a petition seeking their release. During the hearing on Monday, the government opposed what it called the Supreme Court's interference in the case. "We must look into the material. We will see the record, what are the allegations and see if there is something real. We will quash if it is a cooked up or clumsy story... If it calls for our intervention, we will look into it," the top court bench said. The petition by historian Romila Thapar and four others has challenged last month's arrest of the five activists that sparked a chorus of outraged protests from human rights defenders.
Here are the top 10 updates on the activists' arrest case:
  1. "Every case can't come to the Supreme Court. It is a wrong procedure. Then every case will come to the Supreme Court," the government told a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud.
  2. The government asked the top court to allow a "competent court to hear the case as the case is pending before other courts".
  3. The centre said if the Supreme Court entertains this case, it is dangerous.Referring to the petitioners, the Maharashtra government said the court cannot entertain strangers.
  4. Chief Justice Dipak Misra said the court entertained the petition to protect liberty.
  5. Maharashtra Police had, on August 28, raided the homes of the prominent activists in several states and arrested at least five of them for suspected Maoist links. Telugu poet Varavara Rao, activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Ferreira, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha were arrested.
  6. The raids were carried out as part of an investigation into an event called "Elgar Parishad" or conclave, on December 31 last year, which had later triggered violence at Bhima-Koregaon village in Maharashtra.
  7. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the petitioners said the five activists were not present at the Elgar Parishad and pointed out that two former Supreme Court judges and a former High Court judge attended the event. 
  8. The Supreme Court had earlier questioned the Maharashtra police's move to arrest the activists and said all of them were reputed citizens and "stifling the dissent" was not good. 
  9. The Supreme Court had on September 6 taken strong exception to the statement of a senior police officer on the arrest of the activists, saying he had cast "aspersions" on the top court. 
  10. An irked court had referred to the statements made to the media by an Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune and said he was casting aspersions on the top court by saying it should not have entertained the petition against the arrests.




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Highlights

1
House arrest of the five activists extended to September 19
2
Centre opposed what it called top court's interference in the case
3
We may cancel the case here if there's nothing, said the Supreme Court

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