the High Court of Gauhati recently granted bail to a woman who had been convicted of sedition after allegedly having lunch at a dining table with a tablecloth resembling the Indian national flag.
The bench of Judge Manish Choudhury mentionned:
“It does not prima facie suggest an act that has the effect of subverting the government by bringing it into contempt or hatred or by creating disaffection with it.. “
The case in brief
Court heard bail plea of ââRajina Parbin Sultana booked under Sections 120B / 124A, Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 2 of the Insult Prevention Act 1971 to national honor.
According to the FIR, she had invited guests to her home for lunch on the occasion of the Eid holiday and subsequently a photo emerged on social media, Facebook from where it was collected that the accused-applicant and a few other people had lunched at a dining table where the tablecloth resembled the Indian national flag.
6 people were named as accused in the FIR, claiming that they had deliberately dishonored the Indian national flag by using the same tablecloth on the dining table while taking food on the dining table.
Observations presented to the Court
Counsel for the accused-applicant argued that of the 6 accused named in the FIR, 5 of them have already been released on bail.
It has further been argued that even if the accusations made in the FIR are prima facie accepted as true, the same could not be brought within the scope of the offense under article 124A, IPC.
On the other hand, the public prosecutor had maintained that the accused-applicant was the host of the lunch which was held at her home.
It is then submitted that there is was sufficient evidence that the accused-applicant had used a tablecloth resembling the Indian national flag to invite guests to her home on the occasion of the Eid festival.
At the outset, the Court observed that the question whether the accused-applicant had, by his act, committed the offense under section 2 of the Prevention of Insult to Persons Act 1971 national honor in a public place or in any other place in plain sight must be examined on the basis of the elements gathered during the investigation and its admissibility during the trial.
“It does not suggest prima facie that it is an act having the effect of subverting the government by leading that government to contempt or hatred or by creating disaffection with it. This Court expresses no definitive opinion as to the realization of the ingredients of the aforementioned offenses.“, added the Court.
Consequently, taking into account the period of detention of the accused-applicant since May 16 and the progress made in the investigation, the Court considered that a further preventive detention of the accused-applicant was not necessary. .
As a result, it was ordered that she be released on bail upon delivery of a bond of Rs. 20,000 / – with a local bond of the same amount.
Case title – Rajina Parbin Sultana and 5 Ors v. Assam State
Click here to download the order