Kerala HC reserves order on Aisha Sultana’s bail plea

Aisha Sultana had said during a TV debate that the Centre used 'biological weapon' against the people of Lakshadweep

Sultana submitted that she never realised that usage of the word bio-weapon is an offence and the remark didn't intend to create hatred in people's minds

The Kerala High Court on Thursday (June 17) reserved orders in the anticipatory bail application filed by Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana, 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 filmmaker, while participating in a debate telecast by a Malayalam news channel on June 7, allegedly made an assertion that the Union Government had used ‘biological weapon’ against the people of Lakshadweep. When the matter was taken up, Sultana apologised 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.

Also read: Sedition charge against film-maker Aisha Sultana for ‘bio-weapon’ remark

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Senior advocate P Vijayabhanu, who represented Sultana, said that the remark was made in ‘the heat of the moment’ while criticising the Lakshadweep administration for easing the COVID norms which resulted in a surge in cases in the islands. Notably, the island didn’t report even a single case till January this year. Sultana said she was ready to appear before the police for interrogation, but sought protection from arrest.

Opposing her anticipatory bail plea, the Lakshadweep administration said that Sultana 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 the investigation. Only thereafter decision regarding arrest will be taken, counsel said.

Also read: More ‘Tughlaq’ rules in Lakshadweep, curbs on island’s fisherfolk

The crime was registered on June 9 for the offences of sedition and hate speech, on the basis of a petition lodged by a political leader at Kavaratti. In a statement filed in the court on Wednesday, the administration had submitted that Sultana made a specific baseless assertion having serious consequences against the Central Government established by law.

(With inputs from Agencies)

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