The Kerala High Court on Friday refused to stay proceedings in a sedition case against filmmaker Aisha Sultana, reported The Hindu. She is facing sedition charges for criticising Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel for his decision to relax Covid-19 protocols.

On June 10, the police had booked Sultana for saying during a television discussion that the Centre was using Patel as a “bio-weapon” against 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”.

On Friday, Additional Solicitor General of India Aman Lekhi, appearing for the Lakshadweep administration, told the High Court that the investigation was at a preliminary stage and so there should be no interference with the case.

The single-judge bench of Justice Ashok Menon agreed, observing that the prosecution needed more time to collect evidence. The judge also asked the Lakshadweep administration and the police to inform the High Court about the progress of the investigation. Menon also allowed them to file a statement opposing Sultana’s plea.

Sultana had asked the Kerala High Court to quash the sedition charges against her after she was granted anticipatory bail on June 25.

Controversy in Lakshadweep

A slew of regulations introduced by Patel, who assumed office in December, 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 and have asked the President to remove him from his 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.