The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere in the arrest of the 5 accused persons in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. In a 2:1 majority judgment, the court rejected the plea for SIT probe in the case and said that "accused can't choose which agency will probe them." The Supreme Court while pronouncing the judgment said "it's not a case of arrest due to dissent".
"Accused persons do not have a say in the investigating agency that probes them. Not a case of arrest due to dissent," said Justice Khanwilkar, adding, "evidence doesn't show that the arrest was made to quell dissent."
The Supreme Court also ruled that the accused will continue to be "under house arrest for 4 weeks and that Maharashtra police to continue with the prove in the case".
The top court said that there will be no independent probe into allegations that charges of being part of Maoist plot was cooked up by police. It also asked the Pune police to go ahead with the arrest and investigation.
The bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra had reserved the judgment on September 20 after counsel for both parties, including senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Harish Salve and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, concluded their submissions.
The bench, that also comprised Justices A M Khaniwlkar and D Y Chandrachud, had asked the Maharashtra police to file their case diary pertaining to the ongoing investigation in the case.
The five accused --Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha-- are under house arrest at their respective homes since August 29.
On September 17, the Central Govt, for the first time stated its position in top court in the case of the 5 accused who are suspected of having Maoist links. ASG Maninder Singh told the Top Court “A Peculiar problem has risen. Naxalism is a problem in the country''. He added that the 5 accused have options to approach the lower court.
Supporting him, Tushar Mehta, a senior lawyer appearing for Maharashtra government said:
Prior to this, on September 6, the apex court also extended the house arrest of the 5 accused persons, who were detained after the pan-India raids conducted by Pune police. The Supreme Court also pulled up Pune police for casting aspersions on the court. Justice DY Chandrachud while slamming the Pune police, said, “ACP Pune insinuated that Supreme Court shouldn’t intervene, he has no business telling that.
The Supreme Court, on August 29, had put the 5 persons detained by the Pune police under house arrest till September 6.
The recent detentions following the multi-city raids, namely of Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha and Arun Ferreira, by the Pune police were said to be the outcome of the arrests made by the Pune police in June, and the information ascertained from them.
Earlier in June, Pune police had arrested Rona Wilson, along with Surendra Gadling, Sudhir Dhawale, Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Rana Jacob in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence. After the arrests, the police had recovered a letter containing the plan of a Rajiv Gandhi type assassination plot for Prime Minister Modi, from Wilson’s laptop.