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NEW DELHI: Describing dissent as a safety valve, the Supreme Court on Wednesday directed that the five human rights activists arrested by Maharashtra Police should be kept under house arrest until the next date of hearing on September 6.

Bhardwaj, P Varavara Rao, Gautam Navlakha, Arun Ferreira and Vernon Gonsalves, be kept under house arrest till September 6, 2018.

Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra ordered house arrest on a petition filed by eminent historian Romila Thapar and four others challenging the Tuesday arrests.

Taking a dim view of the crackdown, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said: “Dissent is a safety valve of democracy. If it is not allowed, the pressure cooker will burst.”

Pune police raided the residences of prominent lawyers and activists across five states on Tuesday and arrested five people for alleged Maoist links — a move that was condemned by opposition leaders and other public figures as an attack on civil rights.


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