On Activists' Arrests, High Court Questions Press Conference By Police

Bombay High Court is upset with Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference showing evidence against the arrested activists

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Maharashtra police claimed it hadsolid evidence including "thousands of documents and letters"

Mumbai: 

Highlights

  1. How can police hold press conference, says court
  2. The matter is subjudice, the court pointed out
  3. Activists under house arrest till September 6

The Bombay High Court has pulled up Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference, elaborating on the evidence it claims to have, against activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. While hearing a petition, the court said how can the police hold a press conference when the case is subjudice.

"How can the police do this? The matter is subjudice. The Supreme Court is seized of the matter. In such cases, revealing information pertaining to the case is wrong," said Justice Bhatkar.

The high court was hearing a petition filed by one Satish Gaikwad, who claims to be a victim of the Bhima Koregaon violence. Mr Gaikwad told the court that the police on one hand wants an in camera hearing while on the other are reading out evidence in the form of the activists' letters in public.The petitioner wants the case to be handed over to the NIA or the National Investigative Agency.

Facing criticism on the raids and arrests targeting rights activists, the Maharashtra police had claimed it had solid evidence including "thousands of documents and letters" that established the activists' links to Maoists and their role in facilitating weapons and funding.

The activists who were arrested on August 28 - poet and Maoist ideologue Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj, activists Arun Fereira, Gautam Navlakha and Vernon Gonsalves - are under house arrest on the orders of the Supreme Court till September 6.

There is nothing new in the allegations made by the police, said Mr Rao's nephew. Calling the Maharashtra Police's "conclusive proof", "cooked up", Mr Rao's nephew told news agency PTI that "it is illegal to hold a press conference when the Supreme Court asked the evidence to be submitted on September 6."

Lawyer and activist Sudha Bharadwaj, who is also under house arrest, said that one of the letters mentioned by the police is fabricated. "It is a totally concocted letter fabricated to criminalize me and other human rights lawyers, activists and organisations," she said in hand-written statement shared through her lawyer Vrinda Grover.

The Bombay High court has been adjourned the matter till September 7, as copies of the petition have not been served to all parties.

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