The Supreme Court is likely to deliver its verdict on Friday on a plea seeking the immediate release of activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence earlier this year, reported the Hindustan Times. The bench had reserved the judgement on September 20 after the counsels for both sides concluded their submissions.
The court had told the Maharashtra government to hand over the entire case diary by September 24.
Five activists were arrested on June 6 and five more on August 28 as part of the Pune Police’s investigation into violence between Marathas and Dalits during an event in Bhima Koregaon near Pune on January 1. A day after the second set of arrests, five citizens filed a petition before the top court to seek their release. Later, an intervention application was also filed on behalf of the five activists arrested earlier.
Activists Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Sudha Bharadwaj and Varavara Rao, who were held in August, are currently under house arrest. The ones arrested in June were Shoma Sen, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Sudhir Dhawale.
During the hearings, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, appearing for the petitioners, claimed that the letters purportedly written by the activists to members of the banned Communist Party of India (Maoist) were “cooked up”. He had said witnesses for the arrest of activists in June were brought from Pune. “They were stock witnesses,” he claimed. “This is a grave violation of procedure.”
On September 17, the Supreme Court said it may consider ordering an inquiry by a special investigation team if it found anything gravely wrong with the material used as evidence against the 10 activists. “Every criminal investigation is based on allegations and we have to see whether there is some material,” the bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud had said.
In previous hearings, the Maharashtra Police have defended the arrest on the grounds that the accused were planning large-scale violence as part of the agenda of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). They had earlier claimed the activists were involved in the Elgar Parishad in Pune that was followed by the caste-related violence in Bhima Koregaon on January 1.
The police have said the activists’ speeches at the event were meant to incite hatred and claimed to have seized thousands of letters exchanged among “underground” and “overground” Maoists. Two retired judges who organised the event have said that the arrested activists had nothing to do with the event.