NEW DELHI, Sept 28 - The Supreme Court today rejected a plea for immediate release of the five rights activists, held in connection with the Koregaon-Bhima violence case for alleged Naxal links, saying �it is not a case of arrest because of mere dissenting views or difference in political ideology�.
An apex court bench, by a majority verdict of 2:1, also refused to appoint an SIT to probe their arrest, in a shot in the arm for the Maharashtra Police which has maintained that the action against the activists was based on cogent material and evidence.
The court said the accused will remain in house arrest for four more weeks during which they are at liberty to avail legal remedies in appropriate court which can consider the case on merits.
The verdict came as a huge setback to activists who came out in support of the accused with various allegations against the investigators, as the top court held that the �accused cannot ask for changing the investigating agency or to do investigation in a particular manner including a court-monitored investigation�.
The three-judge bench refused to interfere with the arrest of the five rights activists and said further proceedings against them would be decided on the merits of the case without being influenced by the observations of the apex court.
It also said that this is not the stage where the �efficacy of the material or its sufficiency� can be evaluated nor it is possible to enquire whether it is genuine or fabricated as it would cause prejudice to the parties, adding they can opt for discharge at an appropriate stage if there is no evidence against them.
The Maharashtra Police had arrested the activists on August 28 in connection with an FIR lodged following a conclave � �Elgaar Parishad� � held on December 31 last year that had allegedly triggered violence later at Koregaon-Bhima village in the State.
The five activists � Varavara Rao, Arun Ferreira, Vernon Gonsalves, Sudha Bharadwaj and Gautam Navlakha � were put under house arrest on August 29 following an apex court order on the plea by historian Romila Thapar, economists Prabhat Patnaik and Devaki Jain, sociology professor Satish Deshpande and human rights lawyer Maja Daruwala against the police action. � PTI