The Bombay high court on Tuesday questioned the invoking of sedition charges against actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel. A complaint was filed against them for allegedly “trying to create hatred and communal tension” through their social media posts.
Later, an FIR was registered following an order from Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate, directing the police to carry out an inquiry against Ranaut and her sister. Ranaut’s lawyer had filed a petition seeking an interim stay on the summons issued by the Mumbai Police, in which the sisters were asked to appear for questioning.
A division bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik heard the petition filed through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee. While the court granted interim protection to the sisters from arrest, it directed them to appear before Mumbai police on January 8.
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Here’s what the court said before granting protection from arrest:
Ranaut’s lawyer, Siddiquee, argued that his client was out of Mumbai to attend a wedding ceremony and all the summons were responded via statements. He said that the answers were also sent to investigating officers.
“Whatever it is, you have to honour the summons,” replied Justice SS Shinde. Siddiquee later apprised the court that Ranaut and her sister will be able to come to Mumbai in the first weekend of January.
The police had to face tough questions for adding Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code in the FIR. “Are you treating citizens of the country like this? 124A?” asked Justice Shinde. “We understand other sections. But 124A?” he reiterated his question.
During the hearing, the judge said the police would have filed the FIR if the case was serious, but it was filed only after the Magistrate passed the order. Justice Shinde also observed that the High Cout has been giving protection under Section 482 in appropriate cases.
Before recording Siddiquee’s submission on the date of recording his clients’ statements, the bench again highlighted the frequent use of sedition charges.
“Why the police is invoking Section 124A IPC in such cases? In many cases, 124A is invoked. You conduct proper workshops for officers as to which sections should be invoked,” Justice Shinde told the Prosecutor.
“If anybody does not fall within the line of the government, will that be sedition?” he asked again, before passing the order.
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