MUMBAI: Opposition Congress Thursday demanded suspension of top Maharashtra police officials for briefing the media on the arrests of five Left wing activists in August in connection with the January 1 Bhima Koregaon violence.
The demand was made hours after the Supreme Court rapped the police officials concerned for addresing the media following the arrests.
Leader of the Opposition in Maharashtra Assembly Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil of Congress alleged that Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis is into "contempt" of court over the police briefing to media, as he heads Home portfolio.
Vikhe Patil sought apology of Fadnvais over the "contempt".
Maharashtra Additional Director General (ADG) of Police Parambir Singh and Pune Police Commissioner K Venkatesham had last week addressed the media separately in the run up to hearing of the matter before the apex court.
In a media briefing in Mumbai on August 31, Singh defended the Pune police's nationwide crackdown and arrest of the activists on August 28.
Venkatesham had told reporters that police are in possession of "digital" evidence about a "larger conspiracy" to mobilise cadres for "action" against security forces.
Vikhe Patil also questionned the authority of the police officials in addressing reporters on the sensitive matter.
"The ADG and the Pune commissioner of police should be immediately suspended after the supreme court's objection.
The chief minister should apologise for the contempt of court and misleading people of the state," the Congress leader demanded.
The Pune Police had arrested Left-wing activists Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira, Sudha Bhardwaj and Gautam Navlakha after conducting nationwide raids.
The raids were carried out as part of a probe into a conclave -- Elgar Parishad -- held in Pune on December 31 last year, which had allegedly triggered caste clashes at Bhima Koregaon in the district the next day.
NCP spokesperson Nawab Malik alleged the police officials had read out "press releases" under "pressure" from the government.
"People are afraid of the police system. We insist the police to discharge their duties within the framework of law. Governments come and go. They (police) should not act under the pressure," he told reporters here.
Earlier in the day, the apex court extended till September 12, the house arrest of five rights activists.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra took umbrage over the statements given by the Assistant Commissioner of Police of Pune on the matter, saying he was casting aspersions on the court.
The bench, which also comprised Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, told the Maharashtra government to make its police officials "more responsible" on matters pending before the court.