In Bhima-Koregaon case, SC asks how ‘activists’ presumed that law was violated
New Delhi, Sep 18: On Monday, during the arguments in the Bhima Koregaon case, the Centre justified the arrests of the activists. The court said that it was ready to examine the evidence against the activists, Sudha Bharadwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Arun Ferriera and Vernon Gonsalves.
The activists were represented by a battery of lawyers, who argued that the case against them was a false one. They said that the arrested were part of the crackdown on dissent against the BJP led government. While they demanded a probe by a special investigation team, the government said that the case of the petitioners was rooted into the perception that the activists could do no wrong.
Additional Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta asked, " if a politician is investigated and arrested, can five of his eminent party colleagues move the SC and argue that the arrested person is an honest politician?" Can they argue that the person is honest and was arrested because of his ideology, Mehta also asked.
The Bench headed by the Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra told the petitioners that although it was in favour of protecting the liberty of every citizen, it could not stop the criminal law process, if there was cogent material collected against the arrested persons by police.
The Bench also asked the petitioners how it presumed that the Code of Criminal Procedure is violated. Whenever the court has appointed an SIT, there has been a grave error in police investigation. As far as the liberty is concerned, we are sanguine about it. As far as issues such as quashing of FIRs are concerned, then you will need to seek remedy elsewhere the Bench noted. The court also said that the question of setting up an SIT would arise only if it found that the material was cooked up.
The court also reminded the petitioners that just by citing Article 21 and 32, one cannot enter the test of constitutional morality. We need to first look at the material and without doing so, we cannot form a view, the Bench said.
The Centre defended the action of the Pune police and said that five left leaning intellectuals have moved this court on their perception that the arrested activists could do no wrong. We have videographer the gathering of evidence from laptops, computers and hard disks of the arrested persons.
Another ASG, Maninder Singh while citing the dangers of naxalism sought to the know the logic of approaching the Supreme Court directly. He asked if the petitioners felt that the magistrate or criminal court cannot independently verify the evidence. Do the petitioners feel that the high courts are powerless under Article 226. The SC can go into the case, but does it mean that the HCs and the lower courts are incapable of hearing the case, the ASG also asked.