In the controversial sedition case arising out a school drama enacted against CAA-NPR, a Sessions Court at Bidar, Karnataka on Tuesday granted anticipatory bail to the manager of the Shaheen Primary and High School, Abdul Qadeer, the President of Allama Iqbal Education Society and Founder of Shaheen Group of Institutions.
Sessions Judge Managoli Premavathi, while allowing the plea file by Qadeer, ordered him to be released on bail in the event of arrest, on executing a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh, along with three surees of like amount.
Commenting on the material placed on record by the prosecution on the allegations of sedition against the accused the court said "The records do not make out the presence of the accused/petitioner during the course of enacting the drama. The drama has not caused any disharmony in the society. Considering all the circumstances, I am of the opinion that the ingredients of Section 124A of IPC (Sedition) are prima facie lacking."
The case for the offence of sedition under Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code was registered on the basis of a complaint that a girl student in the drama had used derogatory dialogues against the Prime Minister.
On this, the Court observed :
"But the dialogue, if read as a whole, no where they make out sedition against the Government and as such ingredients of Section 124A IPC are not prima facie made out. What the children have expressed is that, they will have to leave the country if they do not produce the documents and except that, there is nothing to show that, he has committed the offence of sedition. The dialogue, in my considered opinion, does not go to bring into hatred or disaffection towards the Government".
It added "In the entire nation it is found that there are rallies and protests for and against, CAA and NRC, and as a citizen everybody has got the right to express disapprobation of the measures of the government with a view to obtain their alteration by lawful means. The dialogues were during the course of enacting a play in school. The said play has been enacted on January 21, but information has been lodged on January 26. If at all it was not uploaded on facebook, even the public could not have come to know about the dialogue of that drama."
In regards to the offence of creating disharmony under Section 153A of IPC, the court said "There is no reference of any other community in the drama. But all the artists have said that Muslims will have to leave the country, if they do not produce the documents as required under the proposed CAA, NRC Acts. When there is no other religion in the entire drama, there is no question of causing disharmony between two religions which is the main requirement of the offence punishable".
The Sessions Court also noted that "Shaheen Educational Institution is imparting qualitative education to the students and the institution has earned several awards for its achievements in the field of education".
On January 26, one social worker, Neelesh Rakshyala, had lodged a complaint with the police, stating that the school management had used children studying at the school to perform a drama and to convey a false message to the public against CAA and NRC.
After registration of crime, the police recorded statements of children who enacted the drama and those who saw it. The head mistress of the school and a single mother of a student were arrested. Later, they were released on bail after 16 days of custody.
Qadeer, who is the recipient of the Highest Civilian Award of Karnataka, 'Kannada Rajyothsava' Award, for his services in the field of education, had moved the court stating that his name does not figure in the FIR.
The police filed a statement of objection saying that "Accused is financially well off and using his muscle power they may give threats to witnesses and destroy evidence or obstruct investigation. The offence alleged is grave in nature and against the nation and as such he is not entitled for bail."
The court has directed Qadeer to deposit his passport with the court mark his attendance at the police station once a week till filing of the final report.
A Public Interest Litigation is pending in the High Court of Karnataka seeking action against police officers who had allegedly interrogated the students in this case by violating the procedure under Juvenile Justice Act.
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