Kerala HC to hear plea of filmmaker Aisha Sultana facing sedition charge
The Kerala high court will on Thursday hear an anticipatory bail plea filed by filmmaker Aisha Sultana, who has been booked for sedition for her comments against the Praful Khoda Patel, the administrator of union territory of Lakshdweep. Appearing in a television debate, Sultana allegedly called Patel a “bio-weapon” launched by the Centre.
The case was registered against her on June 10 based on a complaint by BJP's Lakshadweep unit president C Abdul Khader Haji. She was booked under Sections 121 A (sedition) and 153 (B) (assertions against national integration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and she was asked to appear before the police on June 20. Sultana is currently settled in Kochi.
"I made the 'bio-weapon' remark in the context of criticizing the administration relaxing the Covid-19 protocol, which led to a sharp increase of pandemic cases in the island, where there had been not even a single Covid case till January 2021. Lakshadweep is seeing an exponential rise in Covid-19 cases due to the relaxations in the quarantine protocol, and it is in this context that the alleged remarks were made," Sultana has said in her petition.
The plea further said that the criticism on political issues does not constitute the offence of sedition under Section 124A Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The applicant had only intended to say that it was due to the apathetic approach and reforms of the new administrator that serious threat is being caused to the lives of the people of the island and had absolutely no intention of exciting disaffection towards the government," according to her plea.
Haji, meanwhile, said in complaint that Sultana generated hatred and opposition to the Union government by falsely and with ulterior motives.
Many local BJP leaders protested against the slapping of sedition charge against Sultana. Over a dozen of them quit the party in protest.
However, the BJP downplayed the resignations, claiming that the party is intact in the island.
Over the last few days, there has been an uproar against Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel over the new reforms introduced by him, which many allege are against the interest of the islanders.
People are protesting against the draft legislations like Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act), Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation and Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 among others.