A Maharashtra court on Tuesday granted interim protection from arrest to rap artist Raj Mungase, who has been booked for an alleged defamatory song about the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government in the state, reported Bar and Bench.

Mungase, a resident of Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, was booked on April 4 after the video was widely shared on social media. The rapper had posted the video on his YouTube channel on March 25.

On Tuesday, sessions judge RG Waghmare said that Mungase should not be arrested till April 25. The judge also told the police to file its reply to the rap artist’s anticipatory bail application, reported Bar and Bench.

Mungase was booked on the basis of a complaint filed by Snehal Kamble, a leader of the Shiv Sena’s youth wing, the Yuva Sena.

His song had targeted MLAs from the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, calling them “thieves who came with 50 khoke [Rs 50 crore]”.

Since the political drama in Maharashtra last year that saw the ouster of the Maha Vikas Aghadi, the Uddhav Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction has been alleging that the legislators from the Eknath Shinde group received Rs 50 crore to switch sides and ally with the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Maha Vikas Aghadi comprises the Thackeray-led Shiv Sena faction, the Nationalist Congress Party and the Congress.

Mungase was booked under Sections 501 (printing matter known to be defamatory) 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 505(2) (statements causing public mischief) of the Indian Penal Code.

In his plea, Mungase contended that the first information report against him violated his constitutional right to freedom of expression, reported Bar and Bench.

“It was an exercise through which Mungase was raising pertinent social issues and said FIR was filed with a sole intention to stifle the voice of upcoming rap song which spoke against Government,” the plea contented.

Mungase also argued that since the police already have the video song with them, they do not need to interrogate him in custody.