Relief for ex-editor of Urdu daily

Shirin Dalvi, former editor of Urdu daily Avadhnama, Mumbai, which had reprinted the controversial Charlie Hebdo cartoons, received interim protection from arrest on Monday. The Bombay High Court, despite opposition by the Maharashtra government, directed the police not to take any coercive action against her till February 11.

The court was hearing her petition seeking quashing of complaints against her and clubbing of all the FIRs. She has said that her life is in danger as she has received several death threats.

Five FIRs have been filed against her in three districts of Maharashtra, including Mumbai, Thane and Nashik, under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to "deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs."

She has taken anticipatory bail in one case, while she was granted bail after arrest, in another case.

Complaints were filed against her after the daily reprinted the cartoons in its January 17 edition. After readers' complaints, the paper issued an apology on January 18. But it closed down on January 19.

Thereafter, Ms. Dalvi has said, she was hounded by a few people, making her go underground. "She has had to change her style of dressing, switch off her mobile phones, and lock up and leave her residence out of fear for her life," her petition said.

"She is the only woman editor of an Urdu daily in the country. Today, there are multiple FIRs against her. She can't stay at home, her children can't go home, or can't pursue their education," senior counsel Mihir Desai, who represented Ms. Dalvi, told the Bombay High Court.

He pleaded that all the FIRs against her be transferred to one police station. He also pleaded the court to restrain the State from taking any coercive action against her.

But Maharashtra government, represented by public prosecutor Sandeep Shinde, opposed her plea. "It was well within the knowledge of the petitioner that the same step had created problems in France," he said.

He sought time from the court to take instructions about transferring all the FIRs to a single police station. "The best remedy is that let the FIRs be transferred to one police station," he said. He was given time till February 11 to inform the court about the State's stand on it. Till then, the State was restrained from taking any coercive action against her.

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Printable version | May 25, 2020 8:18:38 AM |

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