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'SC verdict on activists' arrest unfortunate and unexpected'

September 28, 2018 22:57 IST

The Supreme Court's refusal to interfere in the arrest of five rights activists is "unfortunate and unexpected", a family member of P Varavara Rao, who is under house arrest in Hyderabad for his alleged links with Maoists, said on Friday.

Varavara Rao, a Left leaning writer, was arrested from the city last month, while activists Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Farreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Gautam Navlakha was arrested in New Delhi.


The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in the arrest of five rights activists in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a SIT for probe into their arrest.

The court also refused the plea seeking immediate release of the activists.

"This is unfortunate and unexpected because the way the whole proceedings went on and the way the judges reacted, we were hoping that the case will be quashed. Because the falseness of the concocted evidence has come out openly in the court.

"But, despite our hopes and expectations, today's judgment refused to intervene (in our favour)," N Venugopal Rao, nephew of Varavara Rao told PTI.

Though the court refused to intervene, it was a relief that it extended the house arrest by four weeks, he said.

Speaking to reporters, Varavara Rao's wife Hemalatha said, "We did not expect this judgment. We, me and Varavara Rao sincerely thank the lawyers for taking up our case. Following the arguments in the court, we assumed that the case will be quashed."

Varavara Rao was arrested on August 28 by the Pune Police. He is under house arrest since August 30 as per the Supreme Court's order.

Venugopal Rao said they will move either the Bombay high court or the Hyderabad high court seeking quashing the case against Rao and others. PTI

Liberty of activists for time being not 'jeopardised', SC protected: Petitioners

The liberty and dignity of the five human rights activists arrested by the Maharashtra Police have "for the time being not been jeopardised" and the Supreme Court has protected them, the petitioners said after the apex court's verdict in the case.

They also said that their stand found "vindication" in the dissenting opinion expressed by Justice D Y Chandrachud.

The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the arrest of the five rights activists in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a special investigation team to probe their arrest.

A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 2:1 verdict, refused the plea filed by noted historian Romila Thapar and others, seeking the immediate release of the activists.

The petitioners "are pleased to note that at least the liberty and dignity of the human rights activists has for the time being not been jeopardized and the Supreme Court has protected the same", Thapar read out from the joint statement.

In the statement, the five petitioners -- Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala -- said Friday's judgement provided protection to the activists for a further period of four weeks and has given them the liberty to seek remedy from the appropriate courts.

"Our stand in this case finds vindication in the dissenting opinion of Justice Chandrachud who has categorically held that liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjecture and that the police had been taking liberties with the truth and besmirching the reputation of the activists by doing a media trial.

"Under such circumstances, the police's ability to conduct a free, fair and impartial investigation is in serious doubt, as has been held by Justice D Y Chandrachud," the petitioners said.

Lawyer Vrinda Grover said Justice Chandrachud's dissenting judgement clearly shows that a "fractured verdict" has been delivered.

"What we asked for was a better investigation and nothing else. After reading the judgement it is clear that it is a fractured verdict. The dissenting judgement says that we made a strong case for SIT probe. Majority judgement also says that liberty has to be restored," Grover told reporters.

The bench also extended by four weeks the house arrest of the activists. The five activists -- Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha -- have been under arrest at their homes since August 29.

Grover added that it is too early to discuss further action and will deliberate with our clients.

Thapar said the plea was filed in the Supreme Court because "we felt the freedom we have in democracy are being slowly taken away from us".

"Any democratic institution cannot take law into its hands. It has to go through a certain way," she said.

Prabhat Pattnaik said the apex court taking cognisance of the case is of great significance to them.

"I consider that historic. If the SC thought they (activist) were Maoists, why were they given four weeks. Within the SC, there were also reservations," Pattnaik said.

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