New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday extended the house arrest of five rights activists who were arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case till September 17.
A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud adjourned the hearing on the plea filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others to September 17 after it was submitted that senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the petitioners, was busy in another court.
Earlier, Singhvi appeared before the bench and submitted that the hearing on Thapar’s plea be conducted after 12 pm as he has to appear in another matter.
The court was hearing a plea filed against the arrest of the rights activists – Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha – in the case.
The arrests have been widely criticised by the opposition and civil rights groups, who have alleged that the Narendra Modi government is trying to stifle dissent and silence those who work with marginalised and oppressed communities.
“The use of draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act against these activists who have no history of indulging or instigating any violence is clearly malafide and an attempt to brow beat and intimidate the dissenting voices,” the petition filed before the Supreme Court said.
The Maharashtra police had arrested the five activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave – ‘Elgar Parishad’ – held on December 31 last year. On the same day, the police had raided the houses of several other activists across the country.
On August 29, the apex court ordered the house arrest of the activists, saying, “Dissent is the safety valve of democracy”.
(With PTI inputs)