In June and August of 2018, the Maharashtra Police arrested ten activists in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence. The Police also accused the activists of sedition, claiming that they were involved in a Maoist plot to the assassinate Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The petitioners have questioned the integrity of the Police and argued that the investigation has violated the activists’ fundamental rights to free expression and personal liberty.
How might the Bench rule?
I) The Court decides against intervening in the Police’s investigation. It concludes that there is sufficient evidence to show that the activists may have engaged in unlawful activities.
II) The Court orders the formation of a Special Investigation Team (SIT). The Court questions the veracity of the material evidence and, further, finds that the Police have committed serious procedural lapses.
II.a) The SIT monitors the Police’s investigation and reports its findings to the Court. The Court finds that while the Police have committed procedural errors, the errors only necessitate Court monitoring and not an independent investigation.
II.b)The SIT conducts an independent investigation. The Court finds the discrepancies in the Police’s investigation to be serious enough to necessitate an independent investigation.
III) The Court orders a halt to the investigation. The Court finds, on the basis of the FIRs, that the Police’s investigation is unjustified. The Court releases the activists.
Note that the Court also has to attend to its 29th August interim order, which released the activists from jail and placed them under house-arrest. The Court has three options:
If the Court allows the investigation to continue without interference, the Court will likely allow the Police to take the activists to jail. If the Court orders an SIT, it is difficult to predict what the Court will do. All three options would be equally likely. If the Court halts the investigation, it will release the activists.