India’s Supreme Court today extended till September 17 the house arrest of five leading rights activists, who were apprehended in connection with caste clash and for their alleged links with Maoists.
An SC bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud adjourned the hearing till September 17 on the plea filed by noted historian Romila Thapar and four others.
The court gave the order after it was informed that Senior Advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, who is representing the petitioners, was busy in another court.
Today, the court heard a plea filed against the arrest of the rights activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha in the case.
The police in the western state of Maharashtra arrested the five activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave held on December 31 last year that had later triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village in Maharashtra.
On August 29, the apex court ordered the house arrest of the activists, saying "dissent is the safety valve of democracy".
The Maharashtra Police had told the Supreme Court last week that the arrests had nothing to do with the activists' dissenting opinion or difference in their political or other ideologies but was because of "serious criminal offences" and incriminating material.
The police cited evidence from computers, laptops, pen drives and memory cards of the activists claiming they revealed that the activists were not only active members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) but also part of a sinister design to destabilise the society.