The house arrests of five activists in connection with the investigation into the violence in Bhima Koregaon was extended till Wednesday, 19 September by the Supreme Court on Monday. The next hearing is scheduled for the same day. Teams of the Pune Police had raided the homes of activists Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha on 29 August, claiming that statements made at an event they had attended on 31 December had triggered the violence in Bhima Koregaon on New Year’s Day. They have been under house arrest since their homes were raided and they were briefly detained. The Supreme Court also agreed to examine the evidence gathered by the Maharashtra Police in the investigation against the activists to decide whether there is any substance to them and whether the inquiry should continue or be quashed on Monday. The bench said Every criminal investigation was based on allegations, and they had to see whether there is anymaterial (to the evidence). It added that if grave lapses were found, then the court may consider the defendants’ prayers, such as an inquiry by a Special Investigation Team in the case. Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Maharashtra government, said the court should make it clear that after the adjudication from the apex court, the arrested accused could not avail remedies simultaneously on similar issues at other judicial fora. Mehta also argued that there was enough evidence to indicate that these activists were involved in criminal acts.
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Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra specified that the issue of an independent investigation may be left for lower courts to decide, while the activists continue to remain under house arrest.