Supreme Court directs activists to be moved to their houses

The Supreme Court has directed that the five tribal- and worker-rights activists who were arrested by the Pune Police will be moved to their own houses, and not in police custody.

The activists will remain in house arrest till the next hearing of the Supreme Court.

“Dissent is the safety valve in a democracy. If you don’t allow dissent, the pressure cooker will burst,” Supreme Court justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud observed during the hearing.

The Maharashtra government has been asked to submit details and clarifications on the case by next Wednesday, and the next hearing will take place in exactly a week.

The case was argued by advocate Manu Singhvi, who is also a leader of the Congress Party.

“People who have been working for human rights for 20-25 years were arrested,” said advocate Prashant Bhushan.

Five prominent citizens, including Devaki Jain, Romila Thapar, had filed the public interest litigation.

The five activists have been charged under the controversial Unlawful Activities Prevention Act after raids at the homes of 10 activists in Delhi, Faridabad, Goa, Mumbai, Ranchi and Hyderabad.

Varavara Rao, Vernon Gonsalves and Arun Ferreira were produced at a court in Pune.

The latest arrests follow similar arrests in June of Sudhir Dhawale, Surendra Gadling, Mahesh Raut, Rona Wilson and Shoma Sen.