Aisha was booked under charges of sedition last week for criticising Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel and alleging during a television channel debate that the Union government used a “bio-weapon”.

Aisha Sultana in a pink top Image courtesy: Facebook/ Aisha Sultana
news Police Thursday, June 17, 2021 - 15:42

The Kerala High Court has reserved its orders on an anticipatory bail plea filed by filmmaker Aisha Sultana, who hails from Chetlat island in Lakshadweep and works in the Malayalam film industry. The High Court however granted her interim anticipatory bail for a week and said that Aisha, who faces a case of sedition, will have to appear before the police for interrogation under Section 41A CrPC notice. The court also directed that in case the police arrest her, she should be granted interim bail after arrest.

Aisha was booked under charges of sedition last week for criticising Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel and alleging during a television channel debate that the Union government used a “bio-weapon” in the Union Territory. Though Aisha later said that she meant that Praful Patel relaxing the lockdown rules had led to COVID-19 cases in the island, which is what she meant as bio terror, the Lakshadweep police booked her on June 8 based on a complaint filed by BJP's Lakshadweep unit president, Abdul Khader.

Senior advocate P Vijayabhanu who appeared for Aisha Sultana argued that the word bio-weapon was used to criticise the relaxation that was brought in Lakshadweep. He also cited the Supreme Court judgement in the ‘Vinod Dua’ case that mere strong words do not count as an act of sedition. He also argued that custodial interrogation is not necessary in the case.

However, the counsel for Lakshadweep argued that Aisha had alleged that the Government of India used bio-weapons against residents and referred to the term. He said that her “noxious” assertion had been a trigger for unrest in Lakshadweep. The counsel also argued that in the same TV debate Aisha had spoken about bio-weapons used by China.

According to LiveLaw, the counsel for Lakshadweep said, “What she has done in this case is that a totally baseless, noxious allegation is made, a very damaging allegation has been made, which can make people think the Government of India has targeted them She has practically sowed the seeds of separatism in the minds of people. Imagine a school going girl hearing her statements. She is a filmmaker in a position of influence.”

Aisha’s lawyer Vijayabhanu said that the comment was made at the heat of the moment and Aisha had already apologised for the same. The Lakshadweep counsel, however, opposed this and said that just like a murderer cannot get away with an apology, Aisha too cannot.

Another lawyer named Krishnaraj also made submissions against Aisha and claimed that she was part of an international conspiracy against India.

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