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  India   All India  21 Sep 2018  Supreme Court reserves verdict on plea for SIT probe

Supreme Court reserves verdict on plea for SIT probe

THE ASIAN AGE. | J VENKATESAN
Published : Sep 21, 2018, 1:28 am IST
Updated : Sep 21, 2018, 1:28 am IST

The Bench concluded arguments on petitions filed by Dr Thapar and others challenging the arrest of five activists.

Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)
 Supreme Court of India. (Photo: PTI)

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved verdict on petitions filed by Romila Thapar and others seeking a probe by a special investigation team (SIT) into the arrest of five activists on August 28 in connection with the Bhima Koregaon incidents and seeking their release on bail.

A Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Kanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, reserved verdict after perusing the documents and part of case diary submitted by the Maharashtra government in a sealed cover.

While senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Anand Grover and Vrinda Grover pleaded for SIT probe, the Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for Maharashtra and senior counsel Harish Salve for the original complainant in the Bhima Koregaon case strongly opposing any such probe.

The Bench asked the State to submit on Saturday to the Registry the entire case diary and evidence available on record to justify the arrest of activists. The CJI told the counsel “we will look into all the letters and evidence but we will not comment on merits.”   

On Wednesda,y the court had asked the ASG to produce one best document available showing the involvement of the activists. On Thursday,  the ASG pointed out to the court several documents, which would show the active involvement of the five activists.

The Bench concluded arguments on petitions filed by Dr Thapar and others challenging the arrest of five activists. The five activists Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were taken into custody from different parts of the country on August 28. The next day the apex court had directed that they be kept under `house arrest’ and this has been extended further till the pronouncement of order in the petitions.

Resuming his arguments, the ASG submitted that no interference should be allowed in criminal matters in the garb of PIL. He said the court should take into consideration the disclosures made in the letters seized, to drive home the point, that the activists are actively involved and connected to the case under investigation. He said the issue of links with banned organisation like CPI Maoists is too serious which the court can’t ignore lightly. Mr Salve cautioned the court from interfering in this matter. He said one could have any ideology but have to draw a line when it comes to unlawful activities. He said “I am suggesting the contours where free speech ends and unlawful activity begins. If Your Lordships feel they are on the trial of unlawful activity, then investigation should go on.” He argued another man might interpret that one man’s freedom struggle as anti-national activities. To what extent we allow it. Even senior political leaders had earlier said that the present Constitution is wrong. That is not sedition. But what amounts to sedition are unlawful activities, he said. The question before the court he said was to examine whether the investigating officer should be allowed to investigate certain unlawful activities.” We are on a trail of unlawful activities. Our judiciary is robust,” he said opposing the plea for a court monitored SIT headed by a retired Supreme Court judge. Salve said that in earlier cases like 2G scam the court has appointed SIT to prevent any derailment in investigation. “This was done because those allegedly involved were Ministers who could influence the trial. But here the question was different. SIT can come in only when investigation is being detailed. If a policeman picks up a wrong man, the statement has to be recorded before a magistrate. I don’t think we can pass a blanket order that we don’t trust high courts,” Mr Salve said.

Tags: supreme court, bhima koregaon violence, varavara rao, sudha bhardwaj
Location: India, Delhi, New Delhi