Bhima Koregaon case: Civil society members pen open letter to CJI

Letter highlights how prosecution has not been able to build any concrete case against the intellectuals and activists arrested in the case so far


In wake of the Supreme Court giving Anand Teltumbde and Gautam Navlakha a week to surrender in the Bhima Koregaon case, civil society members and activists have written an open letter to the Chief Justice of India urging him to take cognizance of the prosecution’s inability to produce any new evidence against those arrested in the case.

The open letter penned by Romila Thapar, Prabhat Patnaik, Devaki Jain, Maja Daruwala and Satish Deshpande says, “We are the petitioners who had approached the Supreme Court regarding the so-called ‘Bhima-Koregaon case’ in September 2018 (Romila Thapar& Ors. Vs. Union of India &Ors., Writ Petition 32319 of 2018).  While numerous arrests had already been made in this case, we became concerned enough to intervene when warrants were issued on 28th August, 2018 for the arrest of VaravaraRao, ArunFereira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha. These persons are well known public intellectuals, writers, lawyers, human rights activists, scholars and journalists.” 

Their petition had requested that the Supreme Court enable the appointment of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) and supervise the enquiry into the allegations made by the Pune police in order to ensure that it is speedy, impartial and credible. The Supreme Court had declined this petition by a 2-1 majority decision because it was “of the considered opinion that the investigation of the offence in question is at a nascent stage” and that, therefore, it did not wish to discuss the merits of the case “lest any prejudice is caused to any accused or the prosecution, in any manner”. However, the minority judgement agreed with the petitioners on “the need to have an independent investigation” and suggested the appointment of a SIT. Even the majority judgement agreed to extend the time given to the accused to seek legal remedies by a further four weeks.

But now, 18 months later, the activists say, “… media reports indicate that the prosecution has failed to produce any new facts or evidence at the ongoing trial. Despite this, not only have the accused been denied bail and deprived of their liberty for an unjustifiably long period, but two new names have also been added to their ranks. The Supreme Court has declined to grant bail to Anand Teltumbde (Professor of Management, writer and intellectual) and Gautam Navlakha (writer and journalist), and ordered them to surrender to the Maharashtra police in one week.”

The letter says, “Like all fair-minded citizens, we are shocked that the prosecution has not been held accountable to the spirit of the law.  We are anguished that our courts have condoned the continued imprisonment of those who have dared to defend the rights of voiceless and marginalised people, and are now allowing this vindictive campaign to be expanded.  This is especially inhuman and incomprehensible at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic is threatening our overcrowded jails.”

They appeal to the CJI to restore public confidence in our Constitution and the civil liberties that it guarantees to all citizens. The letter says, “The prosecution has already had more than enough time to make its case.  The highest court of the land cannot allow the process to become punishment.”


SC orders Teltumbde-Navlakha to surrender in one week
Statement of Solidarity, Appeal to Acquit Anand Teltumbde



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