Big Win! Sedition charges against celebrities dropped, petitioner to be booked

The case filed against 49 eminent personalities who wrote an open letter to PM asking him to intervene in rising cases of mob lynching has been closed by Bihar police

The Bihar police ordered closure for the sedition case lodged in Muzaffarpur against 49 eminent personalities including Shyam Benegal, Ramachandra Guha, Aparna Sen and Mani Ratnam among other signatories, and the prosecution of the complainant Sudhir Ojha for leveling ‘false charges’ against them.
The sedition case against the celebrities and intellectuals had been filed last week, leading to a huge controversy. The FIR was filed on the orders of Muzaffarpur Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Surya Kant Tiwari.

On Wednesday, Muzaffarpur SSP Manoj Kumar wrote to Bihar Police headquarters in Patna recommending case closure and seeking action against the petitioner.

The SSP came down heavily on Ojha saying that the case was filed “just to garner publicity” and was filed “without any rhyme or reason.” “The investigating officer in the case will file the final report at the local court within a day or two,” he added. The petitioner had named witnesses but failed to produce them before the investigating officer. The police did not find any evidence to go ahead with sedition charges.

Jitendra Kumar, ADG (Headquarters) said that the police had lodged the case following the CJM’s order. The complainant could not even produce before the SSP the letter written by the 49 personalities to support his claim.

On Tuesday, 185 other personalities including Mallika Sarabhai and Romila Thapar among others issued a statement endorsing the letter. Members of the Left inundated PM Modi with 1.5 lakh copies of the same letter in protest of the FIR while Congress’s Shashi Tharoor also wrote to the PM demanding that the sedition charges be dropped.

Nothing Political About It?
Sudhir Ojha, the petitioner, is said to have links with Ramvilas Paswan’s Lok Janshakti Party. As an ally of the NDA, the case came as an embarrassment to the Nitish Kumar government, party sources said.

Nitish Kumar’s intervention was sought by his former associate and Rashtriya Janata Dal national vice president Shivanand Tiwary who pointed out that Guha, named as an accused, was among those intellectuals who have lavished praise on the Janata Dal-United chief.

Nitish Kumar’s deputy, Sushil Modi said that Ojha was a “serial litigant” who had a habit of filing frivolous petitions against people of eminence. Ojha is said to have lodged a total of 715 PILs including those against former PM Manmohan Singh, Amitabh Bachchan and Sushil Modi himself.

Sushil Modi also said that it would be wrong to drag the BJP or the RSS or target the PM in this matter, even though the move came a day after Mohan Bhagwat chief of the BJP’s ideological mentor Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh — said in his Vijaya Dashami address that society must act by “remaining within the limits of Constitution”, no matter what the “difference of opinion be, or howsoever provocative actions might have taken place”.

Meanwhile, Ojha remains unfazed by the statement of the police and plans to file a petition against them soon.

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