Kerala: The High Court in Kerala on Tuesday directed the Kavaratti Police of Lakshadweep to file a statement in the anticipatory bail petition filed by filmmaker Aisha Sultana in the sedition case against her.
Justice Ashok Menon heard the matter today and posted the matter for further hearing on June 17.
An FIR was registered against the filmmaker by the Kavaratti police on sedition charges based on a complaint by BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president C Abdul Khader Haji against Sultana for stating in a TV debate that the GoI deployed COVID as a ‘bio weapon’ against people of Lakshadweep.
The bail plea states, “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.”
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,” the plea reads.
The plea said that the offences under section 153B of IPC also will not stand against the applicant at the words spoken is not prejudicial to national integration or causing disharmony or feelings of enmity or hatred or ill-will.
Kavaratti Police registered a case under section 124A (sedition) and 153B (acts against national integration) of IPC.
Bail plea under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code is filed after the filmmaker was served a notice under Section 41A Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) asking her to appear at Police Headquarters, Kavaratti, related to the case.
Last week, about 15 Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders and workers in Lakshadweep resigned from the party after a sedition case was filed against Aisha.
In their resignation letter to Lakshadweep party president, they said that their resignation is against the case where Aisha Sultana was named who, during a channel discussion, stated how Lakshadweep went from zero Covid cases to rampant Covid cases with the arrival of the present administrator.
They also called the administrator’s decisions ‘unscientific and irresponsible’.
“When BJP workers including you in Lakshadweep and the people have been protesting against the undemocratic actions, you have filed a false and unjustified complaint against Chetlath sister, and are ruining her family and her future. We convey our strong objection and submit our resignation from the primary membership from BJP,” they added.
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.
Patel, who was appointed as the Administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020, is facing opposition over policies introduced by him from the people of the union territory and politicians, both from within Lakshadweep and the neighbouring state of Kerala.