The Supreme Court judgement Friday refusing to grant relief to the five arrested rights activist in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case gave a graphic description of their activities and the earlier cases against them for their alleged links with outlaws, including naxals and maoists.
Three of the five accused persons were prosecuted in the past for offences filed under the Sections of Indian Penal Code (IPC), Arms Act, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in a number of cases.
They were however absolved of all the charges in most of the cases filed against them.
The apex court dealt with the arrest of Gautam Navalakha, a Human Rights activist and New Delhi-based journalist; Sudha Bharadwaj, an IIT graduate who is also an advocate and national green secretary of PUCL; Varavara Rao (79), a Hyderabad-based poet and a political worker; Arun Ferreira, a Mumbai-based lawyer and Human Rights activist and Vernon Gonsalves, a Mumbai-based writer.
Prior to the present case, Ferreira was accused in 11 cases and got acquittal in all of them.
Gonsalves had 18 cases, as per the majority judgment penned by Justice A M Khanwilkar on behalf of himself and Chief Justice Dipak Misra, and he got acquitted in 17 of them. An appeal is pending in one case.
As per the minority judgment written by D Y Chandrachud, however, there were 19 cases filed against Gonsalves earlier and he was acquitted in 17 of them.
An appeal is pending in one case where Gonsalves stands convicted, while an application for discharge is pending before the Gujarat High Court in the other case, Justice Chandrachud noted.
Regarding 79-year-old Hyderabad-based poet and political worker Varavara Rao, the majority judgement noted that there were 25 criminal cases registered against him and he got acquitted in all of them.
In Justice Chandrachud’s judgement, however, the number is 20.
The Maharashtra police had arrested these five activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave — ‘Elgaar Parishad’ — held on December 31 last year that had allegedly triggered violence later at Koregaon-Bhima village in the state.
The Supreme Court on Friday rejected a plea for their immediate release, saying “it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views or difference in political ideology”.
Besides them, Pune police had on June 6 arrested five persons, including Nagpur resident Surendra Gadling, Delhi resident Rona Wilson, Mumbai resident Sudhir Dhawale, Nagpur resident Shoma Sen and Nagpur and Gadchiroli resident Mahesh Raut.