Top court to deliver verdict on arrest of HR activists’ in Bhima Koregaon case today

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The Supreme Court of India will today deliver a verdict on the five arrested activists — Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bharadwaj, and Gautam Navlakha — in the Bhima Koregaon case, on whether they should be released or be probed by a Special Investigation Team. The activists are under house arrests after Pune Police raided their houses on August 28 in alleged connection to Maoists.

One judgment will be delivered by Justice D Y Chandrachud, which will be concurred by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra and Justice A M Khanwilkar.

The bench had earlier 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.

Earlier, during the hearing on the house arrests of the activists, the apex court had observed that “dissent is the safety valve of democracy… if it is not allowed, the pressure cooker will burst.” It also said that the institutions of the country should be “e robust enough to accommodate opposition to the system or even this court” and that a “clear-cut distinction” should be made “between opposition and attempts to create disturbance and overthrow governments”.

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The top court will also deliver its verdict on the Sabarimala Temple case. The five-judge bench will pass a judgment on whether women between the ages of 10 and 50 should be banned from entering Kerala’s infamous temple.

Earlier on August 28, Pune police teams raided the houses of activists in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Delhi and Faridabad and arrested five in alleged connection to a Maoist plot, PTI reported.

Activist Sudha Bhardwaj from Faridabad, Varavara Rao in Hyderabad, activists Gautam Navlakha from Delhi, Arun Pereira and Venon Gonsalves from Mumbai have been detained by the police.

The Maharashtra Police defended the arrests of five human rights activists alleging ‘connection to Maoists’ before the Supreme Court of India by saying that the investigation was based on “cogent evidence”.

The defense was in response to a plea which had been filed by Romila Thapar and four others. The police accused the activists of planning to carry out violence, planned ambush against country and security forces.

“Activists were not arrested because of their dissenting opinion, there is sufficient material to dispel this impression,” the Maharashtra Police said.

ALSO READ: Bhima-Koregaon arrests: IIT-Kanpur alumni faculty demand ‘immediate release’ of Sudha Bharadwaj

While raising the red flag on Human rights abuses in India newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet had slammed India for lack of any ‘meaningful improvement’ on addressing issues highlighted in the UN report on human rights violations in Kashmir.

It was Bachelet’s first address to the United Nations Human Rights Council after her appointment while succeeding Zeid Raad al Hussain as UN High Commissioner for Human Rights this month.

“In her opening remarks at the 39th session of the UN Human Rights Council, Bachelet said the people of Kashmir had the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world,” The Indian Express quoted Bachelet as having said.

“The people of Kashmir have exactly the same rights to justice and dignity as people all over the world and we urge authorities to respect them,” she said.

Bachelet also reiterated the UNHRC’s request for unconditional access to Kashmir on either side of the Line of Control, the report said.

‘Pioneering’ former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet was officially appointed new UN human rights chief on August 10. Following the announcement, Bachelet said she was “deeply humbled and honoured” to have been entrusted with “this important task.”

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