Sedition charge against Arundhati Roy?

A Delhi court will decide today whether Arundhati Roy can be charged for her anti-India remarks.

New Delhi: A Delhi court is likely to decide on Saturday whether criminal proceedings can be initiated against hardline Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani and writer-activist Arundhati Roy on charge of sedition for their alleged anti-India statements.

Metropolitan magistrate Navita Kumari Bagha, who pulled up the police for failing to submit proper status report on the complaint filed with them in October 38 by Sushil Pandit seeking registration of FIR against Roy and Geelani, reserved the order on the complaint filed with the court after hearing arguments of Pandit`s counsel.

Besides Geelani and Roy, the complaint sought prosecution of five others, including Delhi University professor SAR Geelani, who was acquitted in Parliament attack case, and Sheikh Showkat Hussain, a professor of Jammu and Kashmir University.

"The accused had crossed all the limits of freedom of expression and incited the people to rebellion against Indian state by saying that Kashmir was never a part of India. Their conduct fell within the definition of offences described under the IPC and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act," advocate Vikas Pador, who represented Pandit, submitted before the court.

According to the complaint, the accused made the comments at a convention here in October on `Azadi--The Only Way`. Hurriyat leader Geelani shared the dais with Roy and pro-Maoist leader Vara Vara Rao among others. Geelani was heckled by the audience.

During the proceedings today, the court said, "You (Police) were not supposed to file reply on the complaint. You were asked to file the status report as to what action has been taken on complaint filed with you with regard to cognisable offences," the court said.

The counsel pointed out to the court that the police had simply denied the occurrence of any offence and just admitted that a seminar was organised. "The SHO is not even present in the court. They are sleeping over the matter and did not give any answer to our complaint," Padora alleged.

Taking the counsel`s plea into consideration, the court allowed him to advance arguments in the matter and reserved its order.

The complaint filed under Section 156 (3) of the Criminal Procedure Code with the court on November 1 alleged that the government had miserably failed to initiate any action against the "culprits of the anti-India seminar so a private complaint against them has been filed".