Sedition case against Lakshadweep’s Aisha Sultana prima facie not made out: Kerala HC; grants her pre-arrest bail

THE Kerala High Court Friday granted bail to Lakshadweep-based filmmaker Aisha Sultana in a sedition case filed by Kavaratti police for her bio-weapon remark during a TV show.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon held that the sedition charges against her were prima facie not made out.

“The statement made by the applicant in the discussion will have to be taken in its entirety and words cannot be taken in isolation to suggest motive”, Justice Menon said.

He added Sultana’s intention was explicitly the criticism of the modification of the SOP, introduced by the Administrator, forgoing the mandatory provision of subjecting persons entering the island to quarantine. This allegedly led to the exponential rise in the number of Covid 19 cases on the island.

The court pointed out the ingredients for establishing the offence of sedition under S.124-A IPC was the doing of certain acts which would “bring the Government established by law in India into hatred or contempt etc”. In this case, there was not even a suggestion that the applicant did anything as such against the Government of India, the court highlighted.

Besides, the court said charges against her for promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion also were not made out.

“In the instant case, the applicant has opposed the newly introduced reforms by the Administrator and has sworn allegiance to the people of Lakshadweep in their protest to the reforms. There is no apparent indication in her statement, which amounts to imputations or assertions prejudicial to the national interest, nor does it propagate any class of persons against another group of persons. It is therefore doubtful whether the penal provisions of S.153-A would be attracted in this case”, the Court said.

It added that the custodial interrogation of Sultana and her incarceration in prison, particularly in these pandemic times may not be required.

“The prosecution has also not expressed any fear of her fleeing from justice or not co-operating with the investigation”, the Court said.

On June 17, while granting her anticipatory bail for a week, the high court had asked Sultana to appear before the police for interrogation. Now the court has made interim bail absolute.

Sultana was booked under Sections 121 A (sedition) and 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence,  language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.-) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on a complaint lodged by C.Abdul Khader, the State President of the BJP, Lakshadweep.

Click here to read the order