Day 1 Arguments: 30th August 2018

The Court will look into the arrests of five human rights activists under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). In particular, the Court will consider whether it ought appoint an independent Special Investigation Team to investigate the matter. The human rights activists are Sudha Bhardwaj, Gautam Navalakha, Vernon Gonzalves and Arun Farreira.

 

Rather remarkably, the Court was only informed about this case this morning. Mr. AM Singhvi, a layer representing the petitioners, urgently requested the Court to hear the matter. The Court chose to cut other afternoon hearings and began hearing this case at 3:45 PM.

 

Interestingly, the arrested activists are not the petitioners. Rather, the petitioners are five notable intellectuals, who are speaking on behalf of the activists: Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Prabhat Patnaik, Satish Deshpande, Maja Dharuwala. This is rather unusual and the respondents might question whether the intellectuals can legitimately represent the activists.

 

The petitioners are made two main claim. Firstly, they argued that the Maharashtra Police violated the fundamental rights of the arrested activists, by relying on the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act. Secondly, they suggested that the Police had likely made procedural lapses in conducting the arrests. They pointed to the fact that the Police presented the charges to the activists in Marathi, even though some of them did not speak Marathi.

 

The next hearing is expected for the first week of September.

(Disclaimer: We did not have a court reporter present during today's hearing. We relied on reporting by The Indian Express, The Hindu and Scroll)