Lakshadweep Filmmaker Aisha Sultana gets Interim Protection from Kerala High Court

Aisha Sultana has defended herself and said she did not attack the country or the Union government and was refering to Praful Patel's decision.

Sultana
Aisha Sultana booked for sedition after criticisng BJP Lakshadweep unit. Source: The Hindu

The Kerala High Court on Thursday granted interim protection from arrest for a week to Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana in the sedition case registered against her over her “bioweapon” remark during a television debate earlier this month.

A single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon also directed Sultana to cooperate with the investigation and appear before the police in Lakshadweep for interrogation as required under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC). The court also reserved its judgment in the plea by Aisha Sultana seeking anticipatory bail.

The Lakshadweep administration has opposed Aisha Sultana’s anticipatory bail application.

Aisha Sultana’s bail application is not maintainable as the Lakshadweep-based filmmaker has not given any precise reason for any genuine and bonafide “reason to believe” that she will be arrested, the administration said in a statement filed in the Kerala High Court.

Aisha Sultana has defended herself and said she did not attack the country or the Union government. “I was referring to some of the decisions of Patel which infuriated local people. Despite popular sentiment, he continues to antagonise people. As a local resident, I have every right to criticise him,” she said in a Facebook post.

Aisha Sultana was seeking pre-arrest bail in the first information report (FIR) registered by Kavaratti Police under Section 124A(sedition) and 153B (acts against national integration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the basis of a petition lodged by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Lakshadweep unit president C Abdul Khadar Haji.

Filmmaker, Aisha Sultana was booked for sedition after Lakshadweep unit of BJP filed a complaint against her for her comments about BJP’s imposition in the island. She spoke on the matter during a panel discussion for a Malayalam news channel. The petition was filed by Abdul Khader, BJP Lakshadweep Unit’s President, on the grounds that Sultana had called the Union territory’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel “a bioweapon deployed by the Centre” on the people of Lakshadweep. Sultana has been booked under Sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech).

Praful Khoda Patel is a member of Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP). He was appointed the Administrator of Lakshadweep on December 5, 2020. After his appointment, several new legal provisions related to beef-eating, animal slaughter, fishing practices, and personal property, have either been implemented or proposed. Protesters have complained that the government did not engage with the local elected representatives and local populations, or consider their demands before going forward with administrative decisions.

The Kerala assembly has passed a resolution seeking the recall of the administrator and over a dozen leaders from Lakshadweep quit the BJP last week protesting against the sedition charges slapped Aisha Sultana.

The natives of Lakshadweep Island, are protesting against a series of decisions and legal provisions brought about by the Administrator Praful Patel.

Related Read- 

What is behind the simmering protests in Lakshadweep?

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