Kerala high court grants anticipatory bail to Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana in sedition case
The case was registered against the filmmaker on June 10 when the Kavaratti Police booked her under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint by Lakshadweep BJP president C Abdul Khadar Haji.
The Kerala high court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to Aisha Sultana, activist and filmmaker, who is facing a sedition charge over her remarks against Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel. She was earlier summoned by the island police in connection with her 'bio-weapon' remarks, said people familiar with the development. According to a LiveLaw report, Justice Ashok Menon at the Kerala high court passed the order on Sultana's bail application, the same single-judge bench that had earlier granted her anticipatory bail for a week.
The case was registered against the filmmaker on June 10 when the Kavaratti Police booked her under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint by Lakshadweep BJP president C Abdul Khadar Haji. Sultana was served a notice under Section 41A Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the police asked her to appear at Lakshadweep Police headquarters in Kavaratti, in connection with the case.
The controversy over remarks made by Aisha Sultana:
In the complaint, Haji cited a debate on a Malayalam news channels, in which Sultana called the Union territory’s administrator, Praful Khoda Patel a "bio-weapon". Haji said her words were in bad taste and intended to create hatred and aversion in the minds of people.
During the hearing before the high court, the filmmaker's counsel said that the words "bio-weapon" were used in the context of criticising the relaxations given in the Covid protocol in the island and was made to represent the aggrieved lot.
"She never knew that this word can have such implications. She apologised the next day. Covid restrictions were relaxed in Lakshadweep leading to spike in cases. The words bio-weapon were used in that context," Sultana's lawyer said.
But the counsel for Lakshadweep administration opposed the bail plea, asserting that Sultana made a powerful, noxious assertion against the government of India.
Aisha Sultana flouted interim protection: Lakshadweep admin
The Lakshadweep administration had on Thursday informed the Kerala high court that Aisha Sultana flouted the interim protection granted to her by the court. The administration informed the court that the filmmaker was advised to stay in home quarantine except when called for interrogation. It said Sultana met people and talked to the media during her stay, flouting Covid-19 norms. She also visited the panchayat office and attended some functions, it said.
Both Lakshadweep administration and the Union government had opposed Sultana's bail plea, pointing out that her words were used by many foreign journals to show the country in a poor light.