Cases on celebs withdrawn faster than they were lodged

Sedition Cases slapped on celebrities withdrawn as fast as they were lodged

A sedition case against 49 celebrities, including veteran film-makers Mani Ratnam. (File Photo)

A sedition case against 49 celebrities, including veteran film-makers Mani Ratnam, Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen, besides historian Ramachandra Guha, was lodged in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district in October 2019.

Other important personalities who were booked under sedition and other charges included noted vocalist Shubha Mudgal, veteran film-maker Adoor Gopalakrishnan, actor Konkona Sen Sharma and film director Anurag Kashyap. They were charged with “tarnishing the image of the country, undermining impressive leadership of Prime Minister and supporting secessionists.”

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After a huge uproar in the media, the sedition case was withdrawn as fast as it was lodged. However, by then, the Nitish government had drawn sharp flak, even though it didn’t have much role to play in the private complaint lodged by a Muzaffarpur-based lawyer, Sudhir Ojha.   



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These celebrities had reportedly written an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi expressing their concern over the increase in incidents of mob lynchings. Stressing that the slogan ‘Jai Shri Ram’ had become more a ‘provocative war cry’, the 49 signatories had written to the Prime Minister, saying that “there was no democracy without dissent.”

“Pained” over the celebrities’ open letter to Prime Minister Modi, Ojha filed a case against them in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Surya Kant Tripathi. After the CJM passed an order, an FIR was lodged at Muzaffarpur Sadar police station on October 3 against the 49 celebrities.

A dismayed Adoor Gopalakrishnan had remarked, “Will any court admit such a petition based on a letter meant to express one’s fears about happenings in the country?”

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Film-maker Aparna Sen said “such a case would be eventually dismissed by the High Court.”

Meanwhile, the Muzaffarpur police confirmed that the celebrities had been booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and charged with “sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace.” Facing uproar, the Bihar police ordered the closure of the case on October 9, 2019.

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