Kerala High Court granted interim anticipatory bail for a week to filmmaker Aisha Sultana in the sedition case registered against her in Lakshadweep for her 'bio-weapon' remark and has reserved its final order.
Single Judge Bench of Justice Ashok Menon directed her to appear on June 20 before Kavaratti Police for interrogation. The court gave the directions while considering her anticipatory bail plea here on Thursday.
The court, which reserved the final order on the plea, said she has to appear before police for interrogation as per Section 41A CrPC notice.
"In the event of arrest, she should be released in interim anticipatory bail for one week on the execution of Rs 50,000 with two solvent sureties for the like sum to the satisfaction of the arresting officer. She will also be entitled to the benefit of the presence of her counsel during interrogation," the court said in its order.
During hearing Aisha Sultana told the court that custodial interrogation is not required and she is willing to appear for interrogation.
Her counsel said the words "bio weapon" was used in the context of criticizing the relaxations of COVID protocol in the island and was made to represent the aggrieved lot.
"She never knew that this word can have such implications. She apologised the next day. COVID restrictions were relaxed in Lakshadweep leading to spike in cases. The word bi-weapon was used in that context," the counsel said.
Counsel for Lakshadweep Administration opposed the bail plea.
"The excuse of her having issued an apology (should) not to be entertained. A person who issues an apology after committing murder will not be let free on the ground that the person offered an explanation for his actions. It is a very, very serious offence. Indulgence by this court will send a wrong message," the counsel said.
"She made a powerful, noxious assertion against the Government of India. This has been made in the context of protests in Lakshadweep against the new regulations. She has to co-operate with the investigation. It is a very serious offence. Very fairly, the police has issued a notice under Section 41A CrPC. It was our obligation also to register the FIR as per Lalita Kumari judgment. She has been given 10 days notice. The Police has not acted in haste or mala fide manner. They are following the procedure. Police acted cautiously in this case. FIR registered only after circumspection," the counsel added.
The counsel also said she made reference "to bio-weapons used by China and said bio-weapon has been used by Government of India against Lakshadweep residents".
"Facts of Vinod Dua case are distinguishable from this case. 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 Union government 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. The offence is complete the moment the statement was made by her. Subsequent clarifications made by her will not change the offence," the counsel said.