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Kerala HC Reserves Order on Anticipatory Bail Plea Filed by Filmmaker

In Kerala
June 17, 2021

The Kerala High Court on Thursday reserved orders in the anticipatory bail application filed by Ayesha Sulthana who was booked on sedition charges in Lakshadweep, but granted relief to the filmmaker by directing police to grant interim bail in the event of her arrest after interrogation.

The court also directed her to appear before the Kavaratti police for interrogation on June 20.

In the event of arrest after interrogation, she should be granted interim bail, Justice Ashok Menon said.

The allegation is that the filmmaker, while participating in a debate telecast by a Malayalam news channel on June 7, made an assertion that the Central Government has used biological weapon against the people of Lakshadweep.

When the matter was taken up, Sulthana tendered an apology for making such a statement.

The filmmaker submitted that she never realised that usage of the word bio-weapon is an offence and the remark was made not intending to create hatred in the minds of the people.

She said she was ready to appear before the police for interrogation but sought protection from arrest.

Opposing her anticipatory bail plea, the Lakshadweep administration submitted Sulthana promoted separatism and communalism even in the minds of school children by making such a statement.

Counsel for Lakshadweep administration said the police never intended to arrest her and she should cooperate with investigation.Only thereafter decision regarding arrest will be taken, counsel said.

The crime was registered on June 9 for offences under section 124-A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech) of IPC on the basis of a petition lodged by a political leader residing at Kavaratti.

In a statement filed in the court on Wednesday, the administration had submitted that Sulthana made a specific baseless assertion having serious consequences against the Central Government established by law.