Stating that the play staged by a school in Bidar, Karnataka, against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act has “not caused any disharmony in the society”, a district and sessions court in Bidar has granted anticipatory bail to five management representatives of Shaheen Primary School in Bidar, whether the alleged seditious play was staged by children on January 21. The court cited lack of material for a prima facie case of sedition.
In the anticipatory bail orders passed on March 3, the court held that “ingredients of Section 124A of IPC (sedition) are not prima facie made out’’.
District Judge Managoli Premavathi observed, “What the children have expressed is that they will have to leave the country if they do not produce documents; except that, there is nothing to show that they have committed the offence of sedition.”
The court granted anticipatory bail to Abdul Qadeer, 60, president of Shaheen Group of Institutions; school headmaster Allauddin, 40; and three members of the school management committee with a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh each.
Mohammed Yousuf Rahim, a local journalist who broadcast the play on his social media account, was also granted anticipatory bail.
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The case was registered on January 26 on a complaint from Neelesh Rakshyal, a local activist, who had watched the play on Rahim’s account.
With Tuesday’s order, all those accused in the sedition case have been granted bail —Najibunnissa, 46, mother of a student who had acted in the play, and school headmistress Fareeda Begum, 50, were granted bail on February 14 by the court of Principal District and Sessions Judge, a fortnight after their arrest in the case.
Bidar police invoked clauses relating to offences of sedition, promoting enmity between groups and breach of peace — IPC Sections 124A, 153A and 504.
In her order, District Judge Premavathi said, “On careful perusal of the information and other records, it is found that the artist spoke derogatory words —of using chappal against Prime Minister Narendra Modi. On plain reading of the content extracted above, which were used by children in the drama, it is found that through the drama they protested against CAA and NRC, and the drama has been played in the school function.”
The court said as per the prosecution’s case only the extracted portion is offensive. “But the dialogue, if read as a whole, nowhere makes out sedition against the government, and as such ingredients of Section 124A of IPC (sedition) are not prima facie made out.”
The judge held, “The dialogue, in my considered opinion, does not go to bring into hatred or contempt or to excite disaffection towards government.” She held that there are rallies and protest “for and against CAA, NRC” all over the country, and each citizen has the right to express disapproval with the government’s measures “with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means”.
“If it were not uploaded on Facebook, the public would not (even) have come to know about the dialogues of that drama. The drama has not caused any disharmony in the society,’’ the court ruled.
The court also observed that Prime Minister Modi himself would have to complain about dialogues in the play to attract IPC Section 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) in the case.
In its February 14 order for release of the two women arrested in the case, the court had said that only after a full trial can it be decided whether the headmistress scripted the play, and whether the mother of the child who acted in it added derogatory terms.