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Author Ashi Kalim, accused of making derogatory comments on Hindu gods, gets bail from High Court, lawyer Chandni to file intervention application

Sharing such controversial text on the social media platform not only hurts people's religious sentiments but also can cause unrest in society, the court said while rejecting the pre-arrest bail application.

The Bombay High Court on Thursday granted bail to author Ashi Kalim, after her anticipatory bail plea was rejected by a sessions court on 27th August. The court has decided 1st October as the next date of the hearing in the case.

A sessions court in Goregaon, Mumbai had rejected an anticipatory bail plea filed by writer, poet and activist Ashi Kalim Ullah in a case filed against her for making derogatory remarks against Hindus and Hindu gods on social media. Justice S U Baghele agreed with the petitioner that the writer has hurt religious sentiments of Hindus by her remarks, and denied the anticipatory bail plea, saying custodial interrogation of the applicant appears to be necessary to probe the case. The order was issued by the court on 27th August.

In July this year, screenshots of several tweets of the author went viral on Twitter where she had abused various Hindu gods. She had called Krishna a rapist, said that Brahma had raped own daughter, called Durga a prostitute, and made many such highly objectionable remarks.

Objecting to the tweets, advocate Chandni Shah had filed an FIR against Kalim. Initially Shah had filed a cyber complaint at the Bandra Cyber Police, and on the next day she visited the Bangur Nagar Police station in Malad to file an FIR. But the police didn’t register immediately, and after one month of relentless effort by advocate Chandni Shah, the FIR was finally registered on 21st August.

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Talking about the delay of one month in getting the FIR registered, Chandni said, “Richa Bharti of Jharkhand had been arrested and jailed for 3 days within 24 hours of her tweet for ‘Hurting religious sentiments of the minority’, Sunny Gupta of Ghatkopar, Mumbai, had been arrested within 24 hours after his tweet for again ‘Hurting religious sentiments’, but it took 30 days to finally file an FIR”.

Following the filing of the FIR, Ashi Kalim filed for an Anticipatory Bail in the Dindoshi Sessions Court. The date of first hearing in the case was 25th August, and on 27th August the court rejected her application for anticipatory bail.

Along with Chandni Shah as the intervener, Public Prosecutor Usha Jadhav appeared in the court for the State of Maharashtra, while advocate Sunny Waskar argued on behalf of the accused. Ashi Kalim offered an apology for her comments but it was rejected by the court. Her advocate Sunny Vaskar requested the court to consider sympathy for her as she is a woman. He also argued that twitter account of Ashi Kalim was tampered with. Her advocate also claimed that she didn’t have any intention to hurt religious feelings of anyone, but she was provoked to do so.

Chandni Shah argued that such a sensitive case can’t be decided on the basis of the gender of the accused, but instead the seriousness of the offence should be considered. The argument was accepted by the Hon’ble Court. Sharing such controversial text on the social media platform not only hurts people’s religious sentiments but also can cause unrest in society, the court said while rejecting the pre-arrest bail application.

Talking about the claim of provocation made by the accused, the court said that the instigation or provocation for the same is a different aspect, which has to be dealt with separately. Whoever hurts the religious feelings of another community is liable to be dealt with in accordance with law, even it was done on provocation. The court added that the alleged derogatory remarks which allegedly provoked Ashi Kalim to made her derogatory comments can be dealt with in a separate case, but that can’t be the defence of making derogatory remarks on any social media.

Rejecting the bail application, the court said, “looking to the gravity of the crime, and as it has to be ascertained as to what were the twits or the comments originally posted by the applicant and for the purpose of the recovery of the device used in relation thereto, the custodial interrogation of the applicant appears to be necessary. Hence, she is not entitled to anticipatory bail.”

Talking to OpIndia about the case, advocate Chandni Shah said, “It’s a shame, that in the name of secularity, we are being taught to not to raise voice against the wrong doers and keep tolerating. But the limit of tolerance has a saturation point. This is the time that an example is to be set, that whoever is the wrong doer, be it from any community, religion, caste, creed or gender, will be punished and legal actions would be taken against him/her, without any bias.”

Following rejected of the anticipatory bail plea, author Ashi Kalim was likely to be arrested anytime soon, but now she will not be arrested as the high court granted her bail. She is facing charges under section 153 (A), 295 (A), 504 and 506 of the Indian Penal Code. Chandni Shah has said that she will be filing an intervention application at the Bombay High Court. She will be representing the state along with the public prosecutor in the case.

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Staff reporter at OpIndia

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