The Lakshadweep filmmaker named Aisha Sultana had earlier commented on the current government while giving an interview to a television channel. She had said that the Bhartiya Janata Party is using biological weapons against the residents of the island. She had criticized the island administration in strong words according to the allegations of the BJP leaders who have filed an FIR against her in the Kavaratti Police Station under section 124A(sedition) and section 153(B) (actions against national integration) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860.
The filmmaker has moved to the Hon’ble Kerala High Court to apply for anticipatory bail in case the proceedings against her are continued and she has to be taken into custody. She had already been asked to come to the police headquarters for investigation under section 41A of Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as “Cr. P.C, 1973”). Therefore, she has filed a plea for bail under section 438 of the Cr. P.C, 1973. The appellant has mentioned in her plea that she has used the remark “bio-weapon” to indicate the kind of measures being taken by the government regarding the handling of the situation under the current pandemic situation of the second wave of the globally spreading virus. The appellant has said that the number of cases in Lakshadweep has been rising quite fast ever since January 2021. She has criticized the relaxations in the covid protocols that have been allowed by the government. That certainly does not amount to sedition as factual and respectful criticism of the government does not amount to attacking the national integrity of the country or sedition. The application cites the famous Kedarnath case in the defense.
Citing the famous Vinod Dua Case, the appellant has stated the verdict pronounced by the supreme court in which it had been mentioned that a citizen in a democratic country has the right to criticize the government and its functionaries for their actions freely and that would not amount to a crime against the nation as long as the expression does not incite people to follow violent or hateful paths.
Senior Advocate P. Vijayabhanu, representing Sultana has clarified that section 153(B) cannot be applied in this case as the criteria of the speech or any part of it being inciteful or prejudiced do not get fulfilled in the charge sheet. Aisha has even given a public explanation for her speech after she realized that what she said as a mere criticism had been spurring a controversy on social media and elsewhere. The court is yet to look into the matter and pronounce its statement.