On Sunday, film director Aisha Sultana, who is charged with sedition for comments she made about Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, will appear in court. The Kerala high court granted Sultana anticipatory bail in the case on Thursday, but she was ordered to appear before the police on June 20.

Justice Ashok Menon’s single-bench granted her anticipatory bail for a week while reserving its final decision.

On June 10, the Kavaratti Police booked the filmmaker under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) after receiving a complaint from Lakshadweep BJP president C Abdul Khadar Haji.

Sultana was served a notice under Section 41A of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), and the police requested that she appear in connection with the case at the Lakshadweep Police Headquarters in Kavaratti.

Aisha Sultana’s remark has sparked a debate:

Haji cited a debate on a Malayalam news channel in which Sultana referred to the Union territory’s administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, as a “bio-weapon” in the complaint. Haji claimed that her words were in poor taste and intended to instil hatred and aversion in people’s minds.

During the hearing before the high court, the filmmaker’s lawyer claimed that the term “bio-weapon” was coined in the context of criticising the island’s Covid protocol’s relaxations and was intended to represent the aggrieved.

“She never knew that this word can have such implications. She apologised the next day. Covid restrictions were relaxed in Lakshadweep leading to spike in cases. The words bio-weapon were used in that context,” Sultana’s lawyer said.

However, the Lakshadweep administration’s lawyer opposed the bail request, claiming that Sultana made a powerful and noxious statement against the Indian government.

Charge of seditious activity:

Sultana was arrested by the Kavaratti Police under sections 124 (A) (sedition) and 153 (B) (acts against national interests) of the Indian Penal Code. Sultana, according to the complainant, Lakshadweep BJP president Haji, “falsely and with ulterior motives” generated hatred and opposition to the Union government.

Many local BJP leaders were outraged that Sultana had been charged with sedition. In protest, more than a dozen of them left the party.

The BJP, on the other hand, played down the resignations, claiming that the party is still strong in the island.

Khoda is causing a ruckus:

Over the last few days, there has been a backlash against Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel’s new reforms, which many claim are detrimental to the islanders’ interests.

People are protesting draught legislations such as the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act), the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, and the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021.