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SC says dissent 'Safety Valve' of democracy; orders house arrests of activists

Wednesday August 29, 2018 6:28 PM, News Network

Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: Hitting hard on the sudden crackdown of the Left-wing activists and lawyers by Maharashtra Police, the Supreme Court of India on Wednesday ordered their house arrests till September 06, saying dissent was "safety valve" of democracy.

"Dissent is the safety valve of democracy and if you don't allow these safety valves, it will burst," the Supreme Court said.

The observation by India's top court came in response to a petition filed by historian Romila Thapar and others challenging the arrests of lawyer Sudha Bhardwaj and four others by the Pune police.


The SC bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra also directed the Centre and Maharashtra government to file responses to the petition challenging the arrests.

The five activists - lawyer-activist Sudha Bharadwaj, civil liberties activists Gautam Navlakha, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Fereira and poet-activist Varavara Rao, will now not be sent to jail till September 6 but will remain in house arrest under police watch following the SC order.

The Pune Police had arrested the activists and lawyers in connection with an FIR lodged there following an event -- 'Elgaar Parishad' (conclave) -- held on December 31 last year that had triggered violence at Koregaon-Bhima village.

Meanwhile, the Pune police in its report sent to the Centre said, "The UPA Government had, in December 2012, identified 128 organizations with linkages to the CPI (Maoists) and written to all states asking them to take action against people involved with these organizations. Seven of those — Varavara Rao, Sudha Bhardwaj, Surendra Gadling, Rona Wilson, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves and Mahesh Raut — arrested belong to organizations appearing in this list."

"The CPI (Maoist), towards achievement of their ultimate objective of seizure of political power through protracted peoples war, attaches immense importance to the 'Urban Movement' which works towards creation of a United Front in support of their movement", the report said.

"The 'Urban Movement' is the main source for providing leadership & resources to CPI (Maoist). The responsibility for provision of supplies, technologies, expertise, information and other logistic support is also shouldered by overground activists in urban centres", it added.

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