The editor of the Mumbai edition of Urdu newspaper Avadhnama, Shirin Dalvi, received some reprieve on Monday. The Bombay high court temporarily restrained the Maharashtra police from taking any coercive steps against her in the offences registered in the state regarding her newspaper’s republication of the controversial cartoon of Prophet Mohammed.
A division bench of justice Ranjit More and justice Anuja Prabhudessai passed the interim order on a petition filed by Dalvi. The relief is until Wednesday, which is when her petition is scheduled to come up for further hearing.
Dalvi approached Bombay high court seeking the quashing of five criminal cases registered against her – two each in the city, on in Thane and one at Malegaon — for reproducing the cover of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with the controversial cartoon.
Her counsel, advocate Mihir Desai, said she moved court against the FIRs registered under section 295A (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) because she did not republish the cover of the satirical magazine deliberately or with malicious intention.
The very next day, she tendered a public apology through her newspaper and now is facing a threat to her life, the lawyer said. He said the situation is such that Dalvi and her children cannot go home. Her children also cannot attend their colleges, Desai said.
He submitted multiple FIRs have been registered against her at various places across the state and she has already been arrested and released on bail in one case. In another case, she has secured anticipatory bail, and Desai urged the court to restrain the police from taking any coercive step against her pursuant to any other FIRs registered.
To a query from the court as to how many FIRs have been registered against the journalist, Desai said a number of notices have reportedly been affixed on the door of her house in Mumbra, but she because she is unable to go home, she is unaware of the exact number of FIRs registered.
Public prosecutor Sandip Shinde informed the bench that five FIRs have been registered against Dalvi. Although Shinde suggested all the FIRs should be transferred to one police station because the offence is one and the same, he opposed the plea for interim relief.
“As regards interim relief, I have submissions to make,” Shinde said. “Everyone knows the French magazine office was attacked because of publishing the controversial cartoon, and the same cartoon has been reproduced here when the article concerned was not related to it,” Shinde said. “Therefore, prima facie it cannot be said the cartoon was not republished with deliberate and malicious intention,” he added.