The Kerala High Court on Friday granted anticipatory bail to filmmaker Aisha Sultana in a sedition case, Live Law reported. Sultana is facing a sedition case for calling Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel a “bio-weapon” for his decision to relax Covid-19 protocols.

On June 10, the police had booked Sultana for saying that the Centre was using Lakshadweep’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel as a “bio-weapon” against the residents. The Lakshadweep unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party had filed a complaint accusing her of making “anti-national” comments “tarnishing the patriotic image of the central government” during a debate on a Malayalam news channel.

She was asked to appear before the police in Lakshadweep’s capital Kavaratti on June 20. On June 14, the filmmaker approached the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the case. Three days later, the court granted her an interim anticipatory bail for one week, and reserved its final verdict on the plea.

Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Lakshadweep administration told the court that Sultana had abused the interim protection granted to her by the court by flouting Covid-19 norms. In an application to the court, the administration alleged that Sultana met people and spoke to the media even after she was advised to stay in home quarantine except when called for interrogation. The application asked the court to consider this while hearing her anticipatory bail application.

Controversy in Lakshadweep

A slew of regulations introduced by Patel have triggered a massive outcry among the residents of the Union Territory as well as Opposition parties.

The new regulations by Patel include a proposed cow slaughter ban, a preventive detention law in the Union Territory – which has one of the lowest crime rates in the country – and a draft law proposing sweeping changes in land development rules.

Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and have asked for his removal from the post. The parties accused him of harassing locals and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Politicians have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, has been targeting Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population.