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Bombay High Court allows activist Sunaina Holey to approach the court in case of any urgency, assures immunity from arrest for two weeks

Holey had approached the court seeking interim relief from arrest in the three cases that have been slapped against her by the Maharashtra government for allegedly making remarks against Uddhav Thackeray and Aaditya Thackeray

In the matter relating to the Maharashtra government’s action against a Twitter user named Sunaina Holey for allegedly making remarks against CM Uddhav Thackeray and his son Aditya Thackeray, who is the Environment Minister of the State, the Bombay High Court allowed Holey to approach the court in case of any urgency or exigency while assuring her that she will be not be arrested for at least two weeks.

Holey had approached the court seeking interim relief from arrest in the three cases that have been slapped against her by the Maharashtra government for allegedly making remarks against the CM and the Environment Minister. Three FIRs were registered against her in the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police station, Azad Maidan police station and Tulinj police station. She was first arrested on August 6 but was released on bail on the same day.

The Bombay High Court did not grant her interim relief from arrest as requested by her but, on the state’s assurance, said that she will not be arrested for at least two weeks. The court directed police to give her prior notice of at least 48 hours in case they intended to arrest her. Additional Public Prosecutor (APP) JP Yagnik was also directed by the court to file an affidavit before the court within two weeks.

The court accepted the assurance of Holey’s lawyer, Dr Abhinav Chadrachud, that she will be appearing in the police station whenever required for the purpose of investigation. APP Yagnik told the court that Holey did not appear before the Investigating Officer to which her lawyer replied that she was apprehensive of being arrested if she visited the police station. Holey was earlier arrested by Tulinj police a day after getting bail when she had gone to visit the BKC police station to cooperate in the investigation as was required by her bail order.

APP Yagnik made it clear before the court that the Mumbai police was not focused on arresting Holey and not wanted the investigation to proceed. Some media portals, however, attempted to selectively represent the proceedings that happened in the court insinuating that the court rebuked Holey. Apparently, the media portals selectively picked up an observation made by the court regarding the freedom of speech. When Holey’s lawyer was explaining before the court how his client is on the target of the government despite she having the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 of the Constitution, the court had clarified that the right under Article 19 was not absolute and had certain restrictions. Dr Chandrachud had however assured the court that his client was aware of it.

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