The Bombay high court on Wednesday approved the decision of the state government to club the five FIRs registered against Shirin Dalvi, editor of Awadhnama, and the two FIRs registered against Mohommed Yunus Siddiqui, publisher of the Urdu newspaper, and to hand over investigations to the state CID.
Public prosecutor Sandip Shinde informed the court that the state government had decided to club all the FIRs against Dalvi and Siddiqui and hand over investigation to one of the units of the state CID, subject to the approval of the court.
Both Dalvi and Siddiqui have been booked under section 295A of the Indian Penal Code (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) for reproducing the cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, with the controversial cartoon that purportedly led to the attack on its office on January 7.
Shinde pointed out that the basis of all the FIRs registered against Dalvi and Siddiqui was one and the same, and therefore, the decision had been taken to club the offences and allow one officer to carry out the investigations.
He was responding to separate petitions filed by Dalvi and Siddiqui, asking that the FIRs registered against them at various places in Maharashtra be quashed. The editor of Avadhnama has approached high court asking that the five criminal cases registered against her – two each in Mumbai and Thane, and one at Malegaon – be quashed. She has contended that she republished the cover of the satirical magazine with a related story and did not carry the offensive caricature deliberately or with malicious intent, as contemplated under section 295A. Besides, the very next day, she had tendered a public apology through the newspaper, she has said in her petition.
In an interim order, the division bench of justice Ranjit More and justice Anuja Prabhudessai had earlier restrained the police from taking coercive steps against Dalvi and Siddiqui. On Wednesday, the court continued the interim relief and posted the petitions for further hearing on April 10.