New Delhi: Eminent personalities like Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande and Maya Darnall, along with others, moved the Supreme Court against the arrest of human rights lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj and former PUDR secretary Gautam Navlakha over an alleged connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence.
Asserting that the arrest of the activists was malafide and arbitrary, the petitioners have sought an independent investigation in this regard.
The petitioners have also sought an immediate stay on the arrest of these human rights activists, who were apprehended yesterday by the Maharashtra Police for having alleged Naxalists links.
Senior lawyers Prashant Bhushan, Abhishek Singhvi, Dushyant Dave and Indira Jaising will appear for the petitioners before the Supreme Court.
A three-judge bench of the apex court will hear the matter at 3:45 pm.
Meanwhile, the Delhi High Court will hear the matter pertaining to Navlakha’s arrest at 2:15 pm today after police sought more time for translation of documents from Marathi to English.
The court has asked the counsel for police to file the documents by 12 noon.
On Tuesday, raids were carried out by the Pune Police in Mumbai, Ranchi, Hyderabad, Faridabad, Delhi and Thane, with informed sources telling ANI that Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha, Varnan Gonsalves and Sudha Bhardwaj were the five activists arrested in connection with the violence which broke out in January.
The police have booked all the accused under Sections 153 A, 505(1) B,117,120 B,13,16,18,20,38,39,40 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.
The arrests have drawn flak from rights activists, academicians and the Opposition. Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury condemned the arrests, saying that it was a “blatant attack on democratic rights in the country,” and that it was worse than the declaration of the Emergency in 1975.
In January, violence erupted in Bhima Koregaon during the gathering to mark the 200th anniversary of the Bhima-Koregaon battle. A youth died and several others, including 10 policemen, were injured in the incident.