The Bombay High Court said on Monday that police should not take any “coercive action” against journalist Shirin Dalvi till February 11, the next day of hearing. Dalvi is under fire after Urdu daily Awadhnama’s Mumbai edition, which she edited, published a Charlie Hebdo cartoon in its January 17 edition.
On Monday, the state government told the court that despite being aware of the row the cartoons had sparked in France, Dalvi went ahead with publishing one of them.
Sandip Shinde, public prosector, said, “It was in the knowledge of the editor what had happened in France.”
He sought time to take instructions for arguing on the point of Dalvi’s intention.
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The journalist, who could face action under Section 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings or any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code, has around five FIRs registered against her in the state, the court was informed. She was arrested and granted bail on January 28 in one case and in another case, she got reprieve from being arrested till February 4.
Dalvi has said in her petition that after the incident snowballed into a controversy, she has not been able to come out in the open and has been living like a fugitive.
“She has had to change her style of dressing, switch off her mobile phones, and lock up and leave her residence out of fear for her life,” says her petition.
“She is facing threat to her life and she fears if she gets back home she will be lynched. Even her sons are being hounded,” her lawyer Mihir Desai told Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai.
Her petition further says that she is facing “menacing phone calls and visits, and has received death threats”.
“She had reported the statements of the Pope of the Catholic Church, Rome on how those who disgrace a religion must be prepared to face dire consequences,” her petition says.
After the edition was published, Dalvi had received letters from readers saying they were offended by the cover page. Dalvi released an apology the following day, on January 18, saying she had no intention to hurt anyone’s religious feelings.