The Supreme Court on Monday extended till September 19 the house arrest of five rights activists held in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence case. The court said it will order for a SIT probe if they are convinced that material against the arrested activists are cooked up or completely false.
"Every criminal investigation is based on allegations and we have to see whether there is some material," a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had extended the house arrest till Monday. The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud adjourned the hearing on the plea filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others to September 19, after it was submitted that senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the petitioners, was busy in another court.
Additional solicitor general Tushar Mehta, appearing for Maharashtra government, said the court should make it clear that after adjudication by it, the arrested accused cannot avail remedies simultaneously on similar issues at other judicial fora.
The Maharashtra police had arrested the rights activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave -- 'Elgaar Parishad' -- held on December 31 last year that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.
Prominent Telugu poet Rao was arrested on August 28 from Hyderabad, while activists Gonsalves and Ferreira were nabbed from Mumbai, trade union activist Sudha Bharadwaj from Faridabad in Haryana and civil liberties activist Navlakha from Delhi.
The Supreme Court had on September 6 taken strong exception to the statement of a senior police officer on the arrest of the activists, saying he had cast "aspersions" on the top court.
An irked court had referred to the statements made to the media by an Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune and said he was casting aspersions on the apex court by saying it should not have entertained the petition against the arrests.
The Maharashtra government had told the court that the petitioners were "strangers" to the mater and questioned their locus. Its counsel had said there was enough evidence including the materials taken from the activists' computers and other sources which belied the perception of the petitioners about those arrested.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, the counsel for Tushar Damgude who had filed the FIR in the Koregaon-Bhima violence, had opposed the plea of Thapar and said it could have been raised in the magistrate's court by the affected parties.
Earlier, the Maharashtra government had filed its response to the plea claiming the five activists were arrested due to the cogent evidence linking them with the banned CPI (Maoist) and not because of their dissenting views.
(With PTI inputs)