The Supreme Court on Friday refused to interfere with the arrest by Maharashtra Police of five activists in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case and declined to appoint a Special Investigation Team to probe into their arrest.
The three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra, in a 2:1 verdict, refused the plea seeking the immediate release of the activists.
Justice A.M. Khanwilkar read out the verdict for himself and the CJI, while Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said he did not agree with the two judges.
Justice Chandrachud said arrest of the five was an attempt by state to muzzle dissent.
The majority verdict said the protection of house arrest shall remain in force for four weeks to enable the accused to seek appropriate legal remedy at an appropriate legal forum.
The Chief Justice of India said the activists were arrested not because of their dissent but because there was prima facie material to show their link with banned CPI (Maoists) organisation.
Justice Khanwilkar said accused persons cannot choose which investigating agency should probe the case and this was not a case of arrest merely because of difference in political views.
The majority verdict disagreed with the PIL by historian Romila Thapar and others seeking the immediate release of five rights activist, with liberty to the accused to seek remedy in appropriate court.
Justice Khanwilkar said the protection of house arrest shall remain in force for four weeks to enable the accused to seek legal remedy.
He refrained from further commenting saying it may prejudice the case.
Justice Chandrachud said liberty cherished by the Constitution would have no meaning if persecution of the five activists is allowed without proper investigation.
He said the petition was genuine and lashed out at the Maharashtra police for their press meet and the distribution of letters to the media.