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Opinion

‘Why Section 124A?’ Bombay HC’s scathing comment on the sedition charges against Kangana Ranaut

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Mumbai High Court questioned the invoking of sedition charges against actor Kangana Ranaut and his sister Rangoli Chandel on Tuesday. A complaint was filed against him for allegedly “attempting to create hatred and community tension” through his posts on social media.

Subsequently, an FIR was registered following an order from the Bandra Metropolitan Magistrate, ordering the police to carry out an investigation against Ranaut and his sister. Ranaut’s lawyer had filed a petition requesting a provisional stay of the subpoena issued by the Mumbai police, in which the sisters were asked to appear for questioning.

A bench in the division of judges SS Shinde and MS Karnik heard the petition presented through lawyer Rizwan Siddiquee. While the court granted the sisters provisional protection against arrest, it ordered them to appear before the Mumbai police on January 8.

Read also | Kangana Ranaut, sister granted provisional protection by Bombay HC

Here is what the court said before granting protection from arrest:

Ranaut’s attorney, Siddiquee, argued that his client was out of Mumbai to attend a wedding ceremony and all subpoenas were answered by testimony. He said the responses were also sent to investigating officers.

“Whatever it is, you have to respect the summons,” Judge SS Shinde replied. Siddiquee later informed the court that Ranaut and her sister will be able to come to Mumbai on 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 the citizens of the country like this? 124A? “Judge Shinde asked.” We understand other sections. But 124A? he reiterated his question.

During the hearing, the judge said that the police would have presented the FIR if the case was serious, but that it was presented only after the Magistrate approved the order. Judge Shinde also noted that High Cout has been providing protection under Section 482 in appropriate cases.

Before recording Siddiquee’s filing on the record date of his clients’ statements, the court again highlighted the frequent use of sedition charges.

Why do the police invoke Section 124A of the IPC in such cases? In many cases, 124A is invoked. Hold proper workshops for officers on which sections should be invoked, ”Judge Shinde told the prosecutor.

“If someone does not enter the government line, will it be sedition?” he asked again, before passing the order.

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