Bhima-Koregaon case: Eminent citizens seek SIT probe into arrest of activists

Senior advocate Anand Grover claimed that the investigation is 'unfair, biased and deficient' as indicated by 'illegalities' in search of the houses of the activists.

Published: 19th September 2018 11:02 PM  |   Last Updated: 19th September 2018 11:02 PM   |  A+A-

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(Clockwise) Sudha Bharadwaj was arrested in Faridabad, Arun Ferreira in Mumbai, Writer Vara Vara Rao from Hyderabad, Journalist Gautam Navlakha from New-Delhi and 61-Year old Vernon Gonsalves from Mumbai. (File photos)

By PTI

NEW DELHI: Eminent citizens on Wednesday told the Supreme Court that a court-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) should be constituted to look into the entire spectrum of the Bhima-Koregaon case.

Senior advocate Anand Grover, appearing for the five arrested persons in the case, alleged before a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud that there was deficiency in investigation and sought the court's interference to protect the individuals from the State's "oppressive prosecution".

Grover, claimed that the investigation is "unfair, biased and deficient" as indicated by "illegalities" in search of the houses of the activists.

"Mere assertions of criminality by the State in the background of the special circumstances of the case cannot become the basis for incarceration of those detained," he said.

He further claimed that the probe into the second FIR, lodged by Tushar Damugade, is not permissible as two FIRs cannot be lodged on the same facts and circumstances.

He said that the raids carried out at the residences of activists were illegal as proper procedure of law was not followed.

Senior advocate and former union law minister Ashwani Kumar, who also appeared for the eminent citizens claimed that criminal investigations prior to and following the arrests as also detention of the accused is "patently mala-fide and a gross violation" of their fundamental rights.

"Allegations of criminal conduct on the part of those arrested on 28th August 2018, criminal investigations prior to and following the arrests as also detention of the accused is patently mala-fide and a gross violation of their fundamental rights," the plea said.

He further said that this assertion is prima facie validated by the manner in which the focus was shifted from the original accused, that is, Milind Ekbode and Shambhaji Bhide named in the first FIR to those arrested on August 28, who were admittedly neither present at the Elgaar Parishad meeting nor are named in the FIR of January 4, 2018.

Kumar claimed that the facts on record including the manner in which criminal investigation is being conducted merits interference by this court to protect the individuals conceived from "oppressive prosecution and to ensure fair investigation under its own supervision".

He also said that action against citizens under stringent penal statutes such as the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act must pass the test of "reasonableness, rationality and procedural fairness".

The apex court extended till tomorrow the house arrest of five rights activists --Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha-- at their respective homes.

The court had on September 17 said, it may order SIT probe if it found that evidence has been "cooked up".

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 Bhima-Koregaon 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.

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