A week after filing a case of sedition against 49 leading personalities including Mani Ratnam, Adoor Gopalakrishnan, Shyam Benegal and Ramachandra Guha for signing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi over rising incidents of lynching and intolerance, Bihar’s Muzaffarpur Police decided Wednesday to close the case and instead book the complainant for filing a “false” report.
Police said they had filed a case on the orders of a Muzaffarpur court in response to a complaint from local lawyer Sudhir Kumar Ojha who had alleged that these personalities tried to “tarnish the image of the country and undermine the impressive performance of the Prime Minister” besides “supporting secessionist tendencies”. There was widespread criticism of the police decision to book the 49.
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Confirming that they were closing the sedition case, Bihar Additional Director General of Police (Headquarters) Jitendra Kumar said: “Muzaffarpur Police lodged a case on receipt of an order from the CJM court under Section 156(3) CrPC. In such instance, police have no option but to register a case under sections which the reading of the complaint discloses.”
He said the case was supervised by SSP Muzaffarpur. The complainant, he said, could not produce supporting documents or evidence, not even the alleged letter written by the 49 persons.
“On this and other circumstantial basis, the case is found to be false and order has been issued by him (SSP) to the investigating officer to submit final report: False. Along with this, finding this to be an intentional purpose of complainant, prosecution under Section 182 of IPC will be submitted against complainant for lodging a false case,” Kumar said.
After the 49 were booked, investigating officer Hareram Paswan had recorded the statements of three witnesses and complainant Ojha.
Following the police decision, Ojha claimed he had produced the letter written by the 49 people and a joint letter by 62 others against their letter.
“This is abrupt closure of a case without talking to all accused and witnesses. I will file a protest petition against the investigation by Muzaffarpur Police. As for the recommendation of action against me, let the court take a call on it. When thousands of cases are pending, how can police rush to close this case in a week?” he said.
PTI adds: Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also a senior BJP leader, came out with a statement earlier in the day clarifying that his party or the Sangh Parivar did not have anything to do with the sedition case.