A camp court at the Jharpada Jail in Bhubaneswar has declined defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra’s bail plea. Iyer-Mitra has been in custody since October 24 for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments of the people of Odisha.
A camp court is a court which assembles inside a prison to adjudicate a case, instead of the police taking the accused to a local court.
On October 24, the Bhubaneswar-Cuttack Police arrested him in connection with a criminal case filed for his tweets in 2017, in which he had said the Jagannath idol at a temple in Puri was actually from Kolkata and had been stolen “by evil Kalinga demon kings”.
The camp court heard Iyer-Mitra’s bail plea on November 5 and rejected it on November 8. However, the order was made public only on Tuesday, his lawyer Nikhil Mehra told Scroll.in. He also said that no lawyers were allowed to attend the bail proceedings.
However, advocates of the Odisha High Court have been on strike since August 29, following an alleged assault on lawyer Debi Prasad Pattnaik by police personnel the previous day. Camp courts with paralegals representing the parties have been set up in Jharpada Jail to try prisoners, based on a High Court order.
Iyer-Mitra was first arrested in September for allegedly derogatory comments on the Sun Temple in Konark. A Delhi court granted him bail after he furnished a surety of Rs 1 lakh. The court also ordered him to join the police investigation but he did not, alleging a threat to his life. Iyer-Mitra then moved the Supreme Court for protection from arrest. On October 4, the top court refused to grant him bail, saying jail was the “safest place” for him.
On October 24, Iyer-Mitra had also apologised to the a house committee of the Odisha Assembly for his comments on the Sun Temple. “I beg apology because of my stupidity,” he had said.