In a relief to actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel, the Bombay High Court on Tuesday granted them interim protection from any coercive action, including arrest, by the Mumbai Police in an FIR registered against them for alleged hate posts and statements on social and electronic media.
The HC also recorded and accepted a statement made by the sisters’ lawyer that they will respond to summons and appear before the investigating officer of Bandra police station on January 8 between 12 and 2 pm and record their statements. The HC also noted that investigation in the case will continue.
A division bench of Justices S S Shinde and M S Karnik was hearing a plea by Ranaut and her sister filed through advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, challenging Bandra magistrate’s order to Mumbai Police to take cognizance of complaint against the sisters and summons issued to them to appear before the police. The plea also sought to quash ‘absolutely vague and baseless’ FIR filed against them.
Last month, the Metropolitan Magistrate’s court at Bandra had ordered the police to investigate a complaint filed by Munawwar Ali Sayyed, a Bollywood casting director and fitness trainer, which referred to Ranaut’s and Chandel’s tweets and other statements.
On Tuesday, Siddiquee sought an ad-interim protection from the court that Mumbai Police shall not take any coercive action including arrest against the sisters until further orders, which the court accepted. Siddiquee, after taking instructions from the sisters, made a statement that the duo will appear before the Bandra police station on January 8, 2021, which the court accepted.
The bench, while perusing the complaint orally, observed, “It has become routine that IPC 124-A (sedition) is added in complaint. For what? Are we treating citizens of the country like this? We understand other sections being added but why 124-A?… what if anybody does not fall in line of the government?”
The court also asked the state government lawyer, “Why are police officers invoking Section IPC 124-A? Please conduct workshops for police officers. Not in this particular case but for any case.”
Moreover, the bench also recorded a statement by Ranaut’s lawyer that the sisters will refrain from saying anything in connection with the subject matter of FIR till further orders.
Justice Shinde observed, “No doubt, there is freedom of speech, but that freedom is for other citizens too. None can claim, ‘I have this absolute right.’ Every citizen has fundamental rights. Those rights are subject to reasonable restrictions. While enjoying them, the rights of other persons to remain silent and to lead a peaceful life should not be violated. All citizens need to take care of this.”