New Delhi: The Supreme Court today ordered that the five human rights activists, arrested in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence case, be kept under house arrest till September 6, saying dissent was the “safety valve” of democracy.
The five activists will now not be sent to jail till September 6 but will remain in house arrest under police watch. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra questioned the Maharashtra police for arresting these persons after around nine months of the Bhima-Koregaon incident.
“Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don’t allow these safety valves, it will burst,” the bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, said.
The top court also issued notice to the Maharashtra state government and the state police on the plea filed by five intellectuals, including historian Romila Thapar and economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devika Jain, against the arrest of the rights activists yesterday in connection with the case. The council, appearing for Maharashtra, raised the issue of maintainability of the plea, saying a “stranger” cannot seek relief for the activists who have already approached the high courts.
Prominent Telugu poet Varavara Rao was arrested from Hyderabad, while activists Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Gautam Navalakha was arrested from New Delhi.
The Maharashtra Police had arrested them in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ (conclave) — held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village. The bench posted the matter for hearing on September 6.