Closure ordered for sedition case against celebrities lodged in Bihar town
The FIR was lodged last week upon complaint of a local advocate Sudhir Ojha, who had also named as ‘witnesses’ Bollywood figures Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri
Closure has been ordered for the sedition case lodged in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur against close to 50 renowned personalities, including filmmakers Shyam Benegal, Mani Ratnam and Anurag Kashyap besides historian Ramachandra Guha, who were signatories to an open letter seeking Prime Minister Narendra Modis intervention in rising incidence of mob lynching.
Senior Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarpur, Manoj Kumar Sinha said on Wednesday that direction to the effect has been issued to the Sadar police station in the town where the FIR was lodged last week upon the complaint of a local advocate Sudhir Kumar Ojha.
"Closure has been ordered for the sedition case. A closure report will be submitted before the court in due course", Sinha said.
Although the SSP did not elaborate further, police sources claimed that during investigations it was noted that Ojha’s allegations were "mischievous" and "lacked substance".
Notably, Ojha had filed a petition before a court here in July this year soon after news reports of the open letter, signatories to which also included actors Soumitra Chatterjee, Aparna Sen and Revathi and light classical singer Shubha Mudgal, came out.
The CJM, Surya Kant Tiwari, allowed the petition filed under Section 156(3) of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) in August and upon receiving intimation of the same on October 3, the police lodged an FIR under IPC sections invoked by the petitioner, including the one for sedition.
Interestingly, the petitioner had also named as "witnesses" Bollywood figures Kangana Ranaut, Madhur Bhandarkar and Vivek Agnihotri and alleged that those named as accused had brought disrepute to the country and sought to tarnish the image of the Prime Minister.
The development had triggered nationwide outrage, evoking criticisms from top opposition leaders like Rahul Gandhi even as close to 200 celebrities this time including historian Romila Thapar and actor Naseeruddin Shah among others came out with another open letter asking how an appeal to the Prime Minister could be construed as seditious.
Last week, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar was urged by his former associate and currently RJD national vice president Shivanand Tiwary to intervene and get the case annulled.
Tiwary made an impassioned plea pointing out that those named as accused included Guha, who was among the country’s intellectuals to have lavished praise on the Bihar Chief Minister a number of times.
Bihar Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi, who is also a senior BJP leader, came out with a statement earlier in the day clarifying that his party or the Sangh Parivar did not have anything to do with the sedition case.
The Deputy CM also dubbed Ojha, whom he did not mention by name, a "serial litigant" by whom he was also named as accused in a case a few years ago.
Modi, however, also attacked the "award wapasi and tukde tukde gangs" for trying to take advantage of the episode to allege that Narendra Modi government at the Centre was throttling freedom of expression.