Supreme Court verdict on arrest of activists LIVE updates: The activists — Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha — have been under house arrest since August 28 after police held them for their alleged Maoist links.
The Supreme Court on Friday will decide if the five arrested activists — Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha — in the Elgaar Parishad case should be released and whether to hand over the probe to a special investigation team. The activists have been under house arrest since the police held them on August 28 while probing an alleged Maoist link to a meeting of the Elgaar Parishad in Pune on the eve of the January 1 violence in Bhima Koregaon.
A three-judge bench headed by CJI Dipak Misra had reserved the judgment on September 20 after counsel for both parties concluded their arguments. One judgment will be delivered by Justice D Y Chandrachud, which will be concurred by the CJI and Justice A M Khanwilkar.
Stating that there should be a clear distinction between opposition and a bid to overthrow the government, the bench had said it would look at the Maharashtra Police’s “material” on the Bhima-Koregaon case with a “hawk’s eye” as liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjectures. It had also asked the Maharashtra police to hand over the case diaries.
Supreme Court verdict on arrest of activists: Top court will today deliver its judgment on legality of raids and arrest of five activists. Follow LIVE UPDATES
Arrested from MumbaiCurrent status: Under House Arrest
* Has been moving in and out of jail since 2007* Arrested for being responsible for the propaganda and communications wing of the banned CPI (Maoist)* 10 cases including sedition and waging war against the country filed against him* Spent four years in Nagpur Central Prison* In 2011, police arrested him alleging that he was absconding, even though he was in prison in Nagpur.* Got bail in 2012, acquitted of all cases in 2014* Wrote about the alleged police torture and his life in prison in a book, Colours of the Cage* In recent weeks, Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves wrote for a web portal about their experience of life in jail, detailing the lack of sunlight and fresh air.
Arrested from MumbaiCurrent status: Under house arrest
* Arrested first in 2007 for being part of the banned CPI (Maoist).* Accused of planning terror acts and infiltrating workers’ unions to create undercover cadres for Maoist activities* Was convicted under the Arms Act, Explosives Act in 2014 and sentenced to a three-year jail* Under UAPA, court sentenced Gonsalves to five years in jail. (first case of alleged Naxalites being convicted in a UAPA case in Maharashtra).* Worked for the rights of labourers in Vidharba
Arrested from HyderabadCurrent status: Under house arrest
* Varavara Rao is a well-known Marxist critic, revolutionary poet, literary critic, civil rights activist and Maoist sympathiser* Helped organise peace talks and negotiating ceasefires in united Andhra Pradesh at the height of insurgency* Founder of Virasam (Revolutionary Writers’ Association) – that propagates Naxalite ideology* Has a case filed against him for allegedly instigating a revolution which became known as the Secunderabad Conspiracy. * His name has allegedly come up in a Maoist letter giving him the responsibility to raise funds for a plot to target Prime Minister Narendra Modi; calls the letter ‘fabricated’
Arrested from Faridabad Current status: Under House Arrest
* Sudha Bharadwaj, a trade unionist, human rights activist and lawyer who surrendered her US citizenship at the age of 18. * Teaches law at the National Law University* General secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).* Quit academics to join the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha* Was also involved with the Bhilai Steel Plant workers’ union, fighting for better wages and safe working condition. * Fiercely criticised government during the sterilisation deaths in Bilaspur in 2013* Complained against Chhattisgarh police and Sukma district officials for “turning a blind eye” to the alleged murder of seven people and the burning of homes by special police officers of Salwa Judum in 2007.* Takes up several cases on human rights abuse and labour law
Police claim the speeches made at the Elgaar Parishad were one of the triggers for the violence that was witnessed in and around Pune the next day. The police began raids early morning and arrested them by the end of the day. In Pune, Joint Commissioner of Police Shivaji Bodkhe said the arrests were based on information they had received from five “urban Maoist operatives” arrested in a similar operation nearly three months ago. Another police officer claimed there was “evidence in the form of electronic communications” through a portal that ensured anonymity.
Welcome to the live blog. The Supreme Court will today deliver its verdict on the arrest of five activists in connection with the Elgaar Parishad case. Track all the latest developments from the apex court here
The Supreme Court had slammed the Maharashtra Police for making statements related to the arrests in the press, even as the court proceedings were underway.
Supreme Court verdict on arrest of activists today:
The five activists were picked from different locations for their alleged Maoists links on Auguts 28. They were held or their involvement in organising Elgaar Parishad earlier this year in Pune. Elgaar Parishad is an event to mark the 200th year of the Battle of Koregaon, which Dalit groups observe as a victory over the forces of the upper caste Peshwas. The raids were carried out in Delhi, Faridabad, Goa, Mumbai, Ranchi and Hyderabad.
Police had earlier arrested Shoma Sen, Rona Wilson, Sudhir Dhawale, Antachi Chalwal, Surendra Gadling and Mahesh Raut for allegedly sourcing funds from banned Maoist groups to help in organising Elgaar Parishad. It also accused them of planning to assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a “Rajiv Gandhi-like manner”.
Read | Who are the five arrested in Elgaar Parishad probe?
The plea filed by historian Romila Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala, has sought an independent probe into the arrests and the immediate release of the activists.
The Supreme Court during the hearing of the case had said it might order a probe by a special investigating team (SIT) if it found that the evidence had been “cooked up”. It had also said that the material, supporting the arrest of the five activists in the case, needed to be examined. It had slammed the Maharashtra Police for making statements related to the arrests in the press, even as the court proceedings were underway.
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According to the Maharashtra Police, material recovered from six alleged Maoist cadres arrested before the five were held had thrown up “concrete material requiring and justifying” the arrests.
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