Sedition case : Court grants interim protection from arrest to Shehla Rashid

A Delhi court on Monday granted relief from arrest to Jammu and Kashmir People’s Movement leader Shehla Rashid, who has been booked for sedition for tweeting that the armed forces allegedly tortured civilians and ransacked houses in the Valley after Jammu and Kashmir’s special status was revoked.
In his order, additional sessions judge Pawan Kumar Jain at Patiala House court granted interim protection from arrest to Rashid. He wrote: “I am of the view that the matter requires investigation in detail” and posted it next for November 5. Till then, he ordered that the “accused shall not be arrested”, news agency report said.
However, he directed that she would “join the investigation” as and when called by the investigation officer.
Earlier, Rashid’s counsel, senior advocate Satish Tamta, urged the court for interim protection on the ground that she had shared some information on her Twitter (account) on August 17 this year pertaining to the situation in Jammu and Kashmir.
He submitted before the court that “on the basis of her comments, one advocate made a complaint to the Special Cell (of Delhi Police) and on the basis of said complaint, police has registered an FIR”. The counsel also stated the sections under which the case has been registered.
Thereafter the additional public prosecutor submitted that till date, the police has not even issued any notice to the accused. Tamta, thereafter, stated that Rashid was ready to join the investigation and cooperate with the police.
ASJ Jain also recorded that the prosecutor had stated that the police has thus far not received any complaint from the Indian Army. After he said that the police would need at least six weeks to investigate the complaint, the judge posted the matter to November 5.
This case has once again highlighted how the serious provision of sedition is used arbitrarily to silence complaints and voices of dissent.
In this case, while Rashid has been accused of making false accusations against the army, the fact of the matter, as submitted by a counsel before the court, is that the army has not made a complaint till date.
It may be noted that Rashid had described the charge levelled against her as “frivolous, politically motivated and a pathetic attempt to silence” her. Apart from sedition, she was also charged with spreading “fake news” with the intention to “malign the image of the Indian Army”.
The case was filed in connection with a series of tweets made by her on August 17. In these, Rashid had alleged that the armed forces entered houses in Kashmir at night and “ransacked” them. She had also alleged that four men were called to an Army camp in Shopian and “interrogated (tortured)”.
Following her tweets, a Supreme Court lawyer, Alakh Alok Srivastava, filed a complaint with Delhi Police Commissioner Amulya Patnaik accusing the former JNU student leader of making “absolutely false and concocted” allegations.
The complaint was forwarded to Special Cell and Rashid was booked, apart from other sections, for under section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code as well.

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