The Kerala High Court on Wednesday, 8 June, stayed further proceedings in the sedition case registered against filmmaker Aisha Sulthana by Lakshadweep police in view of the recent Supreme Court order staying proceedings in all such cases until the Union government completes re-examining Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
Aisha was booked in June last year on sedition charges following a complaint by a BJP leader in Lakshadweep that she spread false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory during a TV debate.
Considering a plea filed by Aisha in view of the SC directive on sedition cases, Justice Ziyad Rahman A A stayed the proceedings for three months. The court had earlier granted bail to her in connection with the case.
On a news debate on 7 June 2021, while talking about the contentious reforms implemented by the Lakshadweep administration at the time, Aisha had critiqued the Union government alleging that a ‘bioweapon’ had been used in the UT.
She later she said referred to Administrator Praful Patel and his policies as a bioweapon. The filmmaker later said that she was absolutely innocent of the allegations levelled against her and that she had been falsely implicated in the case with ulterior motives and vexatious intentions, according to her.
She had also contended that it was settled law that the provisions of Sections 124A and 153B of the IPC could not be invoked to penalise criticism of a person engaged in carrying on administration or for using strong words to express disapprobation of the measures of a government.
The Kerala High Court, on 25 June, last year granted her anticipatory bail. On 2 July 2021, the Court declined to grant an interim order staying the FIR registered against her, stating that it would be improper for the court to interfere at that stage of the investigation.
Following this, the Lakshadweep administration filed a statement opposing the plea to quash the FIR, but in May 2022, the apex court asked all proceedings initiated under Section 124A (sedition) across the country be kept in abeyance till the Union government's exercise of reviewing said section is completed.
Aisha hails from Chelath Island in Lakshadweep. Besides being a model, she has worked in numerous films in Malayalam.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)