Not a crackdown on dissent, says SC

Rejects SIT probe into activists’ arrest
The Supreme Court, in a majority opinion on Friday, held that the pan-India crackdown and arrests of five activists in the Bhima-Koregaon violence case on August 28 was not an attempt to silence dissent. Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justice A.M. Khanwilkar shared the majority view on a three-judge Bench that material evidence did not show that the “different political ideology” of the activists had triggered the police action against them. “Upon perusal of the material, we are of the considered opinion that it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views expressed or difference in the political ideology of the named accused, but concerning their link with the members of the banned organisation and its activities,” Justice Khanwilkar, who wrote the opinion, noted. The majority opinion dismissed the writ petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and four others alleging that the arrest of poet Varavara Rao, lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and activists Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves and Gautam Navlakha were made under questionable circumstances. The arrest was an exercise of mala fide powers by the police without any legal evidence to link the activists with the crime under investigation, the petition said.
‘Vague assertions’
The majority view called the allegations “vague and unsubstantiated assertions.” The court rejected the plea for a SC-monitored Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the allegations against the activists. It extended their house arrest of for another four weeks and asked them to seek relief from the lower courts.
Source :  https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/not-a-crackdown-on-dissent-says-sc/article25076168.ece

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