School Sedition Case Divides Lawyers in Bidar as Many Condone FIR

Lawyers tried to pass a resolution stating that no lawyer should represent the arrested women & school management. 

Updated10 Feb 2020, 05:33 PM IST
3 min read

While a primary school in Karnataka’s Bidar made national headlines for being charged with sedition after staging a play that was critical of CAA-NRC last month, a cascading effect has left lawyers, in the small north Karnataka town divided on the issue.

On 5 February, around 25 lawyers of the Bidar Bar Association reportedly attempted to get a resolution passed, stating that no lawyer should represent the arrested women and the management of Shaheen Urdu Primary School in the court. The bail plea of the parent and a teacher is up for hearing on Tuesday, 11 February, after they were remanded to judicial custody since their arrest on 30 January.

An argument reportedly broke out in the meeting when the resolution was announced, with one group opposing it and other supporting it. Unable to come to a conclusion, lawyers in the two groups agreed to go their separate ways over the sedition row.

A group of approximately 30 lawyers is planning to invoke Section 302 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC) that talks of assisting the public prosecutor in counsel without appearing in court with him.

On the other hand, a team of defence lawyers, including Keshavrao Srimale and S Aravind, is representing the school authorities and the other accused who are being held at the Bidar Central Prison and Correction Services.

‘Such Anti-National Things Shouldn’t Be Taught in School’

Anil Kumar, who has been practicing law in Bidar for the last 25 years, said that he along with 30-40 lawyers were supporting the complainant, Nilesh Rakshal, who is believed to be an ABVP member.

“We don’t know him personally but we are supporting him irrespective of what party he is affliated to. If the complainant is unhappy with the services of the public prosecutor he can hire a lawyer of his choice. We will be ready to fight the case because in school, such anti-national things must not be taught by teachers. They can protest the law outside but cannot insult the sitting PM. Is it a school or political party?,” he told The Quint.

He added that education about the law should be restricted to university students and not primary school kids, who “won’t understand.”

‘Attempting to Politicise Case’

Calling the move unnecessary, Keshavrao Srimale, an advocate who has been practicing in Bidar for 11 years, said that the resolution was merely an attempt to make the case more high-profile and thus ensure that Shaheen School “gets a bad name”.

“Trying to pass such resolutions and trying to help the public prosecutor is simply not required. The same group of 25 advocates or so are responsible for this. They want to ensure that the case becomes high-profile and gets all the wrong attention. They are motivated by the ABVP complainant, that’s why they are doing all this. They want the school to get a bad name and lose the case,” said Keshavrao.

‘Sedition Charge Doesn’t Apply’

Speaking about the bail application hearing due on 11 February, Keshavrao said that they were hopeful of interim relief in the form of the bail order.

“The police should have prior permission from a higher authority for filing a sedition charge in an FIR. An officer of the rank of the superintendent or deputy SP should ask for an explanation and only then can the FIR be entertained,” he said.

“We are hopeful that we will get bail even though the order might not come tomorrow,” he said

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Published: 10 Feb 2020, 05:18 PM IST
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