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Bihar Police Dismiss Sedition Charge against 49 Celebs, to Book Complainant for Filing ‘False’ Case

The Bihar Police has also ordered that the case of sedition be closed against the celebrities that include historian Ramchandra Guha, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen and Shyam Benegal.

Marya Shakil | CNN-News18maryashakil

Updated:October 10, 2019, 5:56 PM IST
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Bihar Police Dismiss Sedition Charge against 49 Celebs, to Book Complainant for Filing ‘False’ Case
From left: Shyam Benegal, Aparna Sen and Ramchandra Guha, three of the personalities who were named in the FIR.

New Delhi: A Muzaffarpur-based advocate, who filed a case in a Bihar court against the 49 noted personalities who had written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi raising concern over the growing incidents of mob lynching in the country, has been charged by police for filing a false case.

The police will file a prosecution against complainant Sudhir Kumar Ojha in court, a senior Bihar police official told CNN-News18. Muzaffarpur Senior Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Sinha said he also ordered that the case of sedition be closed against the celebrities.

Sinha said the order has been issued by him for closure of the case as the investigation so far has revealed that allegations were levelled against the accused out of "mischief" and "lacked substance".

ADG Headquarter Jitendra Kumar said the complainant was neither unable to produce supporting documents or evidence nor even the alleged letter written by the 49 persons, which may support his claim of commission of any offence.

"On this and other circumstantial basis, the case is found to be false and an order has been issued by him to the investigating officer to submit final report — false. Along with this, finding this to be an intentional purpose of complainant, prosecution under sections 182 and 211 (relating to false information or false charge of offence) will be submitted against the complainant for lodging a false case," the police statement added.

The FIR was lodged at the Sadar police station last week against 49 noted personalities, including historian Ramchandra Guha, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen and Shyam Benegal, upon the order of the Chief Judicial Magistrate which had forwarded a petition filed by Ojha.

The FIR was lodged under several sections of the Indian Penal Code, including those related to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with an intent to provoke breach of peace.

The letter written by the celebrities had said that the lynching of Muslims, Dalits and other minorities must be stopped immediately, while stressing there was "no democracy without dissent". It also noted that the 'Jai Shri Ram' slogan was reduced to a "provocative war cry".

Ojha earlier said he had no objections to the celebrities writing letter to the prime minister. “But by getting it published in the media, they deliberately tried to tarnish the image of the PM and the country,” he was quoted as saying by 'The Print'.

Ojha also accused them of undermining the “impressive performance of the prime minister" besides "supporting secessionist tendencies".

Last week, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was urged by his former associate and current RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary to intervene and get the case annulled. Tiwary made an impassioned plea pointing out that those named as accused included Guha, who was among the country's intellectuals to have lavished praise on Kumar a number of times.

Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also a senior BJP leader, came out with a statement earlier in the day clarifying that his party or the Sangh Parivar did not have anything to do with the sedition case. Modi also dubbed Ojha, whom he did not mention by name, a "serial litigant" by whom he was also named as accused in a case a few years ago.

Karnataka Congress leader KC Venugopal expressed his happiness, saying "no regime can silence the voice of those who speak truth to power".

Complainant in trouble

The 50-year-old claims to have filed as many as 745 PILs since he started his law practice in 1996. He has a track record of taking the celebrities to court over issues like advertisements of "hazardous junk food" and smooch scenes in Bollywood films. In 2007, Ojha had filed a PIL against the makers of film Dhoom 2 for a kissing scene, while 2013, he had filed a PIL against Amitabh Bachchan for promoting Maggi, which he said was hazardous to health.

Former prime minister Manmohan Singh, RJD chief Lalu Prasad Yadav, MNS chief Raj Thackeray are among those against whom Ojha has filed PILs.

The case of sedition against the celebrities had kicked up a controversy, with several politicians reacting to the development in dismay.

Former Congress President Rahul Gandhi had said that things had reached a stage where people are being arrested for speaking against Modi.

"The country is moving towards an authoritarian state and people who speak against the government or the Prime Minister are being put in jail, the media is being crushed. Presently an ideological fight is going on in the country and it's about if the country be ruled by one person and one ideology and all the others should shut their mouth," he had said.

Congress MP Shashi Tharoor had described it as "a shocking and chilling development".

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| Edited by: Moonmoon Ghosh
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