The Bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik of Bombay High Court granted interim protection to Kangana and sister Rangoli Chandel in the case filed by the Mumbai Police over allegedly hateful tweets.
The Court also granted the protection after the sisters undertook, through their Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, to appear before the Mumbai Police on January 8, 2021, in compliance with the summons issued to them.
In the course of the hearing, the Bench also orally observed that there is a trend of adding the offence of sedition under Section 124A, Indian Penal Code to complaints registered against those speaking against a Government.
“It has become a trend to add 124A IPC (sedition) in the complaint. What is the need? Are we treating our citizens like this?”
The Court observed that it has been granting protection in cases where there are offences under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
“Even in routine cases of 498A, when there is possibility of compromise, then we have granted protection,” they added.
The Court proceeded to ask the Chief Public Prosecutor Deepak Thakre to explain to the Court the need to invoke Section 124A of the IPC.
“You must conduct workshop with the police officers to tell them what sections to invoke” the Court suggested to the PP.
When Advocate Rizwan Merchant, appearing for the original complainant Munnawarali Sayyed, opined that it is time the laws on sedition are laid down by the court, the Court replied on a lighter note that
“… nowadays whatever is against the ruling government is considered sedition.“
Bollywood actress Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel moved the Bombay High Court against an order of the Metropolitan Magistrate at Bandra directing the Bandra police to initiate investigation into a complaint filed by one Munnawarali Sayyed filed over allegedly hateful tweets by Ranaut.
The Bandra police had, pursuant to the Magistrate order, registered an FIR against the sisters for offences punishable under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different religious groups), 295A (maliciously outraging religious feelings), 124A (sedition) read with 34 (conspiracy) of Indian Penal Code.
Contentions in the Plea
The plea filed on Monday by Kangana and sister Rangoli Chandel through Advocate Rizwan Siddiquee prays for quashing of the FIR registered by the police and setting aside of the Magistrate order.
A request was also moved for urgent hearing since the petitioners have sought an order from the court to protect them from any coercive steps by the police and also prayed for a stay on the investigation.
The order passed by the Magistrate has been assailed on the ground that Sayyed failed to observe the process laid down under provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure.
The plea states that the Magistrate failed to apply his mind when a common order was passed for complaints against two separate individuals.
It alleges that the Magistrate did not check the content of the complaint which was “absolutely vague and with no proper references”.
The plea further points out that the order failed to justify how the tweets disclosed any of the offences alleged in the complaint filed with the Magistrate.