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‘Anti-Sikh’ remarks: Won’t arrest Kangana Ranaut before January 25, should cooperate with probe, police tell Bombay High Court

🔴 Kangana will record her statement before the Khar Police station on December 22. She was booked on a complaint by members of the Sikh community for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by making derogatory statements on Instagram.

Written by Omkar Gokhale | Mumbai |
Updated: December 13, 2021 2:14:27 pm
kangana ranaut fir anti sikh remarksLast month, Ranaut was booked by the Khar police under IPC section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs). (Express File)

The Mumbai police on Monday told the Bombay High Court that they would not take coercive action against actor Kangana Ranaut, booked on a complaint by members of the Sikh community for allegedly hurting religious sentiments by making derogatory statements on Instagram, before January 25, the next date of hearing, provided she cooperates with the probe.

Ranaut, meanwhile, assured that she would cooperate with the probe and record her statement before the Khar Police station on December 22.

The FIR was filed by Amarjeetsingh Sandhu, 47, along with leaders of Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). As per a complaint on November 21, they came across a post on Kangana’s profile, written in English and Hindi. The FIR stated that the statements allegedly insulted the Sikh religion and beliefs.

Last month, Ranaut was booked by the Khar police under IPC section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).

The actor, in her plea filed through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, sought “to protect her legitimate rights and liberties by quashing the FIR which has been wrongly registered against her.”

The plea claimed that there was no case made out against her and that her post which strongly condemned acts of a banned organization after the repeal of farm laws was in exercise of her fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

On Monday, Ranaut’s lawyer submitted before a division bench of Justices Nitin M Jamdar and Sarang V Kotwal that as per section 295A of the IPC, there has to be mens rea (criminal intention), public disorder and deliberate statement to make out an offence and same was not present in this case.

Chief public prosecutor Aruna Pai for the Mumbai police justified the FIR stating that the petitioner’s statement attracted section 295A of the IPC since most of the people in the farmers’ protest were from the Sikh community.

The bench said there has to be sole intention to create disharmony by hurting religious beliefs and not a mere fallout.

“Where is the deliberate intent here? There is another angle about freedom of speech, which will have a chilling effect,” the court asked the prosecution.

Pai sought time to file an affidavit in reply to the plea, which the court granted. She also said that a notice under section 41A of the CrPC, which mandates the investigating officer to issue a notice of appearance before the arrest, was issued to Ranaut and she failed to respond to it.

Kangana’s lawyer submitted that the said notice was not directly issued to her and it was sent through the staff. The petitioner said that if the police were seeking time to file a reply, she should be given an interim relief of protection from arrest till then.

Pai responded that the offence stipulates punishment up to three years of imprisonment and there is no question of arrest at this stage. On instructions from the investigating officer present in court, Pai said that no coercive action will be taken against the petitioner, however, she should cooperate with the probe.

Ranaut’s lawyer submitted that she would attend the concerned police station on December 22 to record her statement, which the court accepted and posted the next hearing to January 25.

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