The Supreme Court will on Wednesday afternoon hear a petition challenging the arrests of five human rights lawyers and activists by the Maharashtra Police across the country the previous day, PTI reported. The petition was filed by academics Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Devaki Jain and Satish Deshpande among others.
Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi first mentioned the matter before a five-judge Constitution bench, but Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked him to do so before a regular bench at 3.45 pm, reported Live Law.
The petition said the arrests were “arbitrary” and were made without evidence. The plea sought an independent inquiry into the arrests and demanded that all those arrested be released, according to Bar and Bench.
On Tuesday morning, teams of the Pune Police raided the houses of several activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi, Faridabad and Goa, in connection with investigations into a public meeting organised before caste-related violence erupted at Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1.
Scroll.in has reviewed the search warrants, which cite sections of the anti-terrorism law, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, and sections of the Indian Penal Code relating to the offence of promoting enmity between groups.
By Tuesday evening, the joint commissioner of police, Shivaji Bodakhe, confirmed the arrests of five activists: Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Gautam Navlakha in New Delhi, Sudha Bharadwaj in Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad.
Hours later, in a dramatic midnight hearing, a court ordered that Sudha Bharadwaj remain under house arrest till August 30 and not be taken to Pune until then. Earlier on Tuesday, the Delhi High Court had stayed the order of a local court granting the Maharashtra Police transit remand to take Gautam Navlakha to Pune. He will also remain under house arrest until the court hears his case on Wednesday at 2.15 pm.
In Navlakha’s case, the police have sought more time to translate documents related to the case from Marathi to English, ANI reported. Sudha Bhardawaj’s plea before the Punjab and Haryana High Court had also claimed that she was given arrest documents in Marathi, which she does not understand.