Activists Arrest: Petitioners Say Supreme Court Has Protected Liberties Of Individuals, Hail Justice Chandrachud’s Dissenting Views
"State functionaries misuse their power to harass those who do not conform to the politics of their current masters," said Thapar.
After the Supreme Court refused to constitute a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the arrests of five rights activists, petitioners Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Maja Daruwala and Satish Deshpande held a press conference on Friday.
The petitioners said that the apex court’s judgment provided “protection to the activists for a further period of four weeks and has given them the liberty to seek remedy from the appropriate courts.”
The petitioners also hailed Justice DY Chandrachud’s dissenting opinion saying, “He has categorically held that liberty cannot be sacrificed at the altar of conjecture, and that the police had been taking liberties with the truth and besmirching the reputation of the activists by doing a media trial.”
“Under such circumstances, the police’s ability to conduct a free, fair and impartial investigation is in serious doubt, as has been held by J. Dr. DY Chandrachud,” historian Thapar said during the press conference.
Attacking the state machinery for misusing its powers, Thapar added, “There are two kinds of terrorism, both of which create fear and undermine the foundations of our democracy- one are the violent acts of terrorists, who plant bombs, engineer riots and spread fear. Second is the unjustified acts of state, who instead of pursuing the actual perpetrators of violence, misuse their powers to harass who do not conform to their current masters.”
“When the state uses anti-terror laws without adequate proof against persons known to be working for the rights of the weaker sections of society, it is also spreading a kind of terror. Arbitrary arrests on implausible charges, like those of 28th August, are a source of anxiety for us all,” she said.
Author Prabhat Patnaik also raised concerns over the suffering of those who are arrested under draconian laws and kept behind bars for years. “You accuse people of certain criminal acts and arrest them under draconian laws. They don’t get bail, trial is dragged on for years. The police officers who have prepared the case, arrested these people and may also lose the case- they pay no price. There is no penalty on the state functionaries for the terrorism it inflicts on the citizens.”
A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and comprising of Justices A M Khaniwlkar and Justice Chandrachud extended house arrest of Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navlakha, Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves, and Arun Ferreira by four weeks to enable the accused to seek legal remedy at appropriate legal forum. The five human rights activists were arrested one month ago on August 28, by Maharashtra Police.