Bhima Koregaon case: In a setback for activists Supreme Court has ordered an extension of the house arrest of activists for four more weeks. The top court has also declined to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the case and accused at liberty to pursue other appropriate remedies on Friday.
In an unfortunate development in the case for activists and shot in the arm for Maharashtra police the Supreme Court allows the investigation to go on. House arrest order is extended by 4 weeks to let them approach trial court concerned.
“This is not a case of arrest merely because of dissent or difference in political views. Accused persons do not have say in which investgating agency should probe the case. The interim order passed by court for house arrest shall continue for four more weeks,” observed the Supreme Court.
However, Justice Chandrachud dissents again, and said, “I am unable to agree with views of CJI Dipak Misra and AM Khanwilkar J. Technicalities should not be allowed to override substantive justice. The present petition not motivated by political aspects.”
Speaking exclusively with NEWSD, Lawyer and Human Rights activist Vrinda Grover says, “CJI Dipak Misra and J. Khanwilkar have held that this is not a case where the arrests were made for dissent. They have held that there is no need for a SIT. However, they have extended the interim protection of house arrest by 4 weeks and have said that the persons are at liberty to seek remedy from lower courts.”
“Dr. DY Chandrachud has stated that he cannot agree with the CJI and J. Khanwilkar as a matter of principle. He has strongly commented on how the police tried to besmirch the reputation of the arrested persons to prejudice public opinion and that the police cannot be trusted to conduct a fair and independent investigation. He has held that the dignity protected by the constitution links with liberty under criminal law,” added Vrinda Grover
Dissenting again in the case of the house arrest of five Human Rights activists, Sudha Bharadwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vara Vara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, and Vernon Gonsalves in the Bhima Koregaon case, Justice Chandrachud opined that SIT should be constituted. Voices of opposition cannot be muzzled because it is a dissent. Deprivation of liberty cannot be compensated later.
Chandrachud J. came down heavily on Pune Police, berates holding a press conference immediately after SC had passed an interim order.
The judge says, “Acts of Maharashtra police raises question whether Maharashtra police can be trusted to carry out the investigation. Letter alleged to be written by Sudha Bhardwaj was flashed on a TV channel, Police selectively disclosing probe details to media casting cloud on fairness of investigation.”