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Kerala High Court stays proceedings in sedition case against filmmaker Aisha Sultana

Sonal Bhargava | Prabhat Bandhulya

The Kerala High Court in the case of Ayshommabi AM @ Aysha Sulthana v Union territory of Lakshadweep on Wednesday temporarily stayed the sedition proceedings stemming from the First Information Report (FIR) registered against filmmaker Aisha Sultana in 2021 by the Lakshadweep Police. In accordance with the Supreme Court's previous directives, Justice Ziyad Rahman AA issued an interim judgement halting the proceedings under Section 124A (sedition) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for a term of three months. Aysha Sultana was criticised over a year ago after making comments on the Media One channel about the new Lakshwadeep Administrator, Praful Patel, and the change in COVID-19 protocol on the islands, which was blamed for the rapid surge in COVID positive cases in the Union Territory. Following that, a BJP member filed a complaint against her, citing a comment in which she purportedly suggested that the administration had unleashed a "bio weapon" by easing COVID protocols. According to the complainant, this was a "anti-national act." Sultana sought anticipatory bail after the Kavaratti Police issued FIRs against her under Sections 124A (Sedition) and 153B (imputations, assertions detrimental to national-integration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Sultana's case took a new turn in May 2022, when the Supreme Court ordered that all cases brought under Section 124A across the country be put on hold until the Central government's review of the section is finished. Sultana then petitioned the Kerala High Court for a restraining order against the FIR filed against her for sedition. In accordance with the Supreme Court's judgement, the High Court issued an interim injunction granting Sultana a three-month stay of the proceedings.

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