Sedition case registered against Arundhati Roy

FIR has been lodged by Delhi Police at Tilak Marg Station under section 124(a), section 153(a) & 153(b).

Last Updated: Nov 30, 2010, 09:52 AM IST

New Delhi: Writer Arundhati Roy, Hurriyat
hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others were on Monday booked on
charges of sedition by Delhi Police for their "anti-India"
speech at a seminar here last month.

The filing of the FIR came following a directive from
a local court on Saturday on a petition filed by Sushil Pandit
who alleged that Geelani and Roy made anti-India speeches at a
conference on "Azadi-the Only Way" on October 21, a senior
police official said.

Roy and others were charged under sections 124A
(sedition), 153A (promoting enmity between classes), 153B
(imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration),
504 (insult intended to provoke breach of peace) and 505
(false statement, rumour circulated with intent to cause
mutiny or offence against public peace.

"These sections have to be read with Section 13 of the
Unlawful Activities Prevention Act of 1967," the official
said.

Roy and Geelani had shared the dais with Maoist
sympathiser Vara Vara and others. Geelani was heckled by the
audience.

With the case being registered, Roy and others now
face arrest. The sections invoked are non-bailable and if
arrested, they have to approach court for bail.

The maximum punishment, if convicted, is life
imprisonment for the offence.

Government had earlier decided not file any case
against Geelani and Roy as such a move would give unnecessary
publicity to them and the handle to the separatists in the
Valley, officials sources said.

The Union Home Ministry had sought legal opinion on
the issue which suggested that a case could be made out under
sedition. However, after taking political opinion, the
Ministry decided not to file any case against Geelani and Roy.

Earlier reacting to the court order, Roy has said that
perhaps they should "posthumously file a charge against
Jawaharlal Nehru" and cited 14 instances where the first Prime
Minister has said about "the question of accession in any
disputed territory or state must be decided in accordance with
wishes of people".

A R Geelani, who organised the seminar and faces
charges of sedition, said the filing of charges were actually
a "diversionary tactics".

"It is a diversionary tactic. It is to divert
attention from truth. We are not afraid of anything for
speaking truth," he said.

He echoed Roy`s view that if someone is charged with
sedition in this issue, they should also register cases
posthumously against Nehru and former Union Minister Krishna
Menon who had expressed similar views.

Aditya Raj Kaul, a member of `Roots in Kashmir` which
organised protest at the seminar, said they were happy with
the registration of the case within 48 hours of the court
order.

"We expect the police to initiate criminal proceedings
against the accused," he said. He alleged that Union Home
Ministry should be blamed for not taking early action against
those involved in anti-India speeches.

Echoing Kaul`s views, the complainant Sushil Pandit
said he was happy with the registration of the case.

PTI