Friday, December 1, 2023

Delhi LG Approves Legal Action Against Arundhati Roy, Sheikh Showkat Hussain For 2010 Speeches

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Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor, VK Saxena, has given his approval to proceed with legal action against author Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain in connection with speeches they delivered at a public event in 2010. This announcement was made via an official statement from the LG’s office on Tuesday.

The initial complaint that led to this development was lodged on October 28, 2010, by Sushil Pandit, a social activist from Kashmir. Pandit alleged that during a conference organized by the Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP) under the banner of “Azadi – The Only Way” at LTG Auditorium, Copernicus Marg, on October 21, 2010, between 2:00 pm and 8:30 pm, provocative speeches were delivered, discussing the idea of Kashmir’s separation from India.

As a result, an FIR (First Information Report) was filed on November 29, 2010, following an order issued by the Metropolitan Magistrate on November 27, 2010. The charges included sedition, promoting enmity between different groups based on various factors, statements prejudicial to national integration, and acts aimed at public mischief. Additionally, the case fell under Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967.

VK Saxena, the Lieutenant Governor, emphasized that a prima facie case had been established against Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain under sections 153A, 153B, and 505 of the Indian Penal Code for their speeches at the mentioned public function. However, he clarified that despite the sedition charge being plausible, it had not been approved under Section 124A of the IPC, as the Supreme Court, on May 5, 2022, had directed that all pending trials, appeals, and proceedings related to Section 124A (Sedition) of the IPC should be put on hold. Subsequently, the matter had been referred to a Constitution Bench on September 12, 2023.

The Delhi Police had also stated that, due to the Supreme Court’s directions, a decision regarding the prosecution sanction for an offense under Section 124A of the IPC would not be taken at this time.

Two other individuals, Sayed Ali Shah Geelani and Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, who were also accused in this case, have since passed away while the case was ongoing.

During the conference in question, Arundhati Roy and Syed Ali Shah Geelani were alleged to have propagated the view that Kashmir was never a part of India and had been forcefully occupied by the Indian Armed Forces. They called for efforts to secure the independence of Jammu and Kashmir from India.

The complaint by Sushil Pandit included references to statements made by some of the speakers during the conference, and transcripts of speeches by Arundhati Roy, SAR Geelani, and SAS Geelani were submitted as evidence.

Forensic examination of a CD and DVD presented as exhibits took place, and it was determined that these digital materials were in good working order.

The prosecution sanction sought by the Delhi Police pertains to offenses under sections 153A, 153B, 504, 505 of the IPC, and Section 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), 1967 against Arundhati Roy and Sheikh Showkat Hussain.

In explaining the charges further, the notice from the Delhi LG’s office highlighted that Section 13 of the UAPA pertains to unlawful activities and prescribes imprisonment for those taking part in or promoting such activities.

Sections 153A and 153B of the IPC relate to promoting enmity between different groups and making statements prejudicial to national integration, respectively. Sections 504 and 505 deal with intentional insult with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace and statements conducive to public mischief. Section 196 of the CrPC concerns prosecutions for offenses against the state and criminal conspiracy to commit such offenses.

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