Bombay HC extends relief to Kangana Ranuat, sister till Jan 25; questions why sedition being invoked

The court asked the state lawyer, “Why are police officers invoking Section IPC 124-A? Please conduct workshops for police officers. Not in this particular case but for any case.”

The Bombay High Court Monday continued till January 25 the interim protection against coercive action granted to actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel, in a sedition case against them for alleged hate posts on social media.

The Court also directed the Mumbai Police not to summon the sisters for questioning till the next hearing, while questioning the frequency with which sedition charges are being invoked.

Ranaut and her sister appeared before Bandra Police on January 8 to record their statements in the case, as per the assurance given to the HC in November last year.

A division bench of Justice S S Shinde and Manish Pitale is hearing the sisters’ plea, filed through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, for quashing the FIR against them.

On Monday, Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakare told the Court that the duo had appeared before the Police on January 8 from 1 pm to 3 pm.

“The interrogation is incomplete. The petitioners attended and she (Kangana) was there for two hours. She had professional shooting commitment, so she left. We will call her again. What is wrong in cooperating?”

To which, Justice Shinde said, “Whenever anyone appears before the police, they have to complete the interrogation.”

Justice Pitale said, “She (Ranaut) was there for two hours which should be enough. How many more hours do you (Police) need for cooperation? What is the duration you are expecting?” to which PP Thakare responded that police want to question her for three more days.

Advocate Rizwan Merchant, representing the complainant sought time to file an affidavit in reply to the plea. “The earlier interim relief shall continue till then. The Police shall not call the petitioners till that day,” the bench said.”

Justice Shinde said this is not the only case the Bandra Police have. “You can utilise this time for some other cases. Police have other matters to investigate too. Till that time do not call her (Ranaut) again.”

The bench, while perusing the complaint orally, had observed, “It has become routine that IPC 124-A (sedition) is added in complaint. For what? Are we treating citizens of the country like this? We understand other sections being added but why 124-A?”

The court also asked the state government lawyer, “Why are police officers invoking Section IPC 124-A? Please conduct workshops for police officers. Not in this particular case but for any case.”

In an earlier hearing, Ranaut’s lawyer had assured the court the sisters will refrain from saying anything in connection with the FIR till further orders. Merchant and PP Thakare Monday told the court that despite this, Ranaut put several posts on Twitter, including one on the day she went to the police station. “She went to the extent of saying she is being tortured,” Merchant said, and submitted that orders be passed against such posts.

The Court said that it would consider all the issues and arguments in the case during the next hearing and posted the case to January 25.

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