The Bombay High Court on Tuesday directed actor Kangana Ranaut and her sister Rangoli Chandel to appear before the Mumbai Police on January 8 in connection with a first information report registered against them for allegedly trying to create hatred and communal tension through their social media posts, Bar and Bench reported.
The sisters were asked to report to the Bandra police station. The court ordered that no coercive action should be taken against them until further orders.
The bench of Justices SS Shinde and MS Karnik also asked advocate Rizwan Siddiquee, representing Ranaut and Chandel, to record his statement that the sisters would not make any statement in public or social media regarding the FIR. “There is freedom of speech no doubt, but that freedom is for other citizens too.” the bench said.
The High Court also pulled up the Mumbai Police, represented by senior advocate Rizwan Merchant, for invoking sedition in the case. “We understand other sections. But Section 124A?” the court asked Merchant, according to Live Law. “Are you treating citizens of [the] country like this? If anybody does not fall within the line of the government, will that be sedition?”
The bench then said that a proper workshop should be conducted to instruct police officers on invoking the right sections in FIRs.
The bench also expressed displeasure over Ranaut and Chandel not appearing before the police during earlier summons. Siddiquee said that they were attending a wedding ceremony outside Maharashtra and a response was sent to the investigating officer.
Unsatisfied with the explanation, Justice Shinde said that due procedure should be followed and when a summon is issued, it should be honoured.
When Siddiquee informed that his clients could reach Mumbai on January 8, the court set the same date for them to appear before the police for questioning. Merchant said the sisters should be asked to appear as soon as possible if they were to given protection from arrest.
“What is so special about them that they can come only in January?” Merchant asked in his submission. The court, however, dismissed the request and posted the matter for January 11.
The sisters had moved the High Court on Monday seeking to quash the FIR. A court in Mumbai had on October 17 directed the police to file an FIR against Ranaut and Chandel for allegedly trying to create communal tension. The complaint was filed by casting director Munnawarali Sayyed.
Sayyed said an investigation was needed to ascertain the motive behind their tweets and to find out “who are the people backing such hatred to create communal tensions and sentiments against the government”. The complaint also accused Ranaut of “maliciously bringing religion in all her tweets”. He said that a divide was being created among artists belonging to different religions.
The women were booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to committing malicious or deliberate acts with the intention of outraging religious feelings of citizens, sedition, promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence or language and common intention.