A sessions court in Gujarat on Tuesday rejected an anticipatory bail plea filed by filmmaker Avinash Das, who was booked for sharing a photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah with a suspended Indian Administrative Service officer on social media, PTI reported.

In a separate case, the filmmaker was booked for allegedly insulting the national flag.

On May 8, Das had shared a photo on Twitter of Shah and Pooja Singhal speaking to each other at an event in Ranchi in 2017. Singhal, the former mining department secretary in Jharkhand, was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate on May 12 in an alleged money laundering case.

The Gujarat Police alleged that the filmmaker shared the photo to defame the home minister and mislead citizens.

On May 16, Das was booked for allegedly insulting the national flag by posting a morphed photo of a woman wearing the tricolour on Facebook. He had posted the photo on March 17.

In the case related to Shah, the 46-year-old filmmaker was booked under Section 469 (forgery) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act (transmitting obscene material). In the other case, Das was booked under provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and the Information Technology Act.

The Mumbai-based filmmaker approached the Gujarat sessions court to seek protection from arrest in another state after the Bombay High Court rejected his transit anticipatory bail application last month.

On Tuesday, his counsel argued that the photo of Shah and Singhal was taken from a website link and circulated by others and not his client, PTI reported. The lawyer also submitted that the photo of a woman wearing a tricolour was not obscene.

The public prosecutor submitted that notices had been served to Das and his wife but the filmmaker did not cooperate with investigation in the case.

Additional Sessions Judge DD Thakkar held that Das had shared Shah’s photo with an intent to tarnish his image and defame him, PTI reported.

“Sharing a photo of a woman with the tricolour showed mental perverseness,” the court said. “Being a filmmaker, it was the prime duty of the applicant to maintain the dignity of the country and give respect to the national flag as well as the Union home minister.”

The filmmaker is known for directing the Hindi film Anaarkali of Araah (2017), which featured Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi. In 2021, he directed Raat Baaki Hai starring Rahul Dev and Anup Soni.