By LE Desk

Kochi, June 18, 2021: The Kerala High Court has 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 yesterday 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 Hindustan Times reported.

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 BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president C Abdul Khadar Haji.

Haji’s police complaint came after Aisha Sultana called the Union territory’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel “a bioweapon deployed by the Centre” against the people of Lakshadweep as she criticised his decisions. She made the comments during a debate telecast by a Malayalam news channel on June 7.

The set of orders passed by Praful Khoda Patel have triggered a controversy and a political storm. 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.

Local residents have been protesting against some of the decisions of the administrator for more than a month now, saying they will destroy the islands’ character and identity. These are three draft regulations that propose to develop the island as a major tourist destination, goonda act and a plan to restrict the slaughtering of cattle, reported the Hindustan Times.

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