Bidar Sedition: After 2 Weeks in Jail, Teacher & Parent Walk Free
After spending over two weeks in prison, the teacher and parent who were arrested on charges of sedition last month, walked out of Bidar Central Prison and Correction Services on Saturday evening.
The duo was granted conditional bail on Friday, 14 February, on a personal bond of Rs 1 lakh each and two sureties.
After hearing arguments on 11 February, judge Managoli Premavathi had posted bail order in the case for Friday, 14 February at the Bidar District and Sessions court.
Arrested on 30 January, Fareeda Begum, headmistress of Shaheen Urdu Primary School and Najbunnisa, a single mother, have been in custody at the Bidar Central Prison and Correction Services for over two weeks over a ‘seditious’ play criticising CAA-NRC.
The Karnataka HC on Friday reportedly issued a notice in the PIL that sought action against Bidar police for illegally and repeatedly questioning minors in this case. The state government has been given time till 19 February to file its response.
Advocates representing the two women had argued that the case was politically motivated and nothing said in the play promoted disaffection towards the government.
Ahead of the bail order, former CM and Congress leader Siddaramaiah was in Bidar to meet the arrested women as well as authorities of Shaheen Educational Institution on Friday.
After initially protesting against the ‘derogatory play’, in a press release on Tuesday, 11 February, the Karnataka wing of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad condemned ‘the act of police in questioning and interrogating small children’ and demanded the intervention of the state government in the case. The ABVP statement also claimed that no complaint had been given by the organisation in this case and that ‘misusing small children’ was awful.
Meanwhile, a group of 30-odd lawyers in Bidar has pledged to support the complainant in the case – Nilesh Rakshal, a ‘social activist’ – by invoking Section 302 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that talks of assisting the public prosecutor in counsel without appearing in court with him.
The last hearing on 11 February had started with the arguments for anticipatory bail for the co-founder of Shaheen Group of Institutions, who has also been booked for sedition and spreading communal disharmony, among other charges. The anticipatory bail petition has been adjourned to 17 February for the school management.
Advocate Aravind S, representing the women along with another lawyer had told The Quint on 5 February that the case was initially registered in the court of the judicial magistrate.
“After the case was registered in the court of the CJM, we had to file a new case in the Bidar District and Sessions court for bail. Yesterday (Tuesday, 4 February), the court issued notice to the public prosecutor and the next bail hearing has been fixed for 11 February. Until then there is no chance of bail,” he had said.
There was no progress in the case since their arrests as the judge in the District and Sessions court was on leave and returned only on 4 February.
While the adults were in prison, officers of Bidar police, up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent, have been turning up at the school on a near-daily basis to quiz kids, in groups and in their classrooms, about a school play that was staged on 21 January.
After posts about the play were shared on Facebook, the police registered an FIR at the New Town police station accusing the school of sedition, spreading communal disharmony and fake news about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).
(With inputs from Bar and Bench)