Amulya Leona, a 19-year-old woman who has been in jail since February 20 for shouting pro Pakistan slogans at an anti-CAA rally, has been granted default bail by a magistrate court since the stipulated period of 90 days of keeping an accused in custody, had passed and no chargesheet had been filed by the police.
Leona was booked under sections 124A (sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) and 505(2) (Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
On February 20, at an anti-CAA protest where All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) leader Asaduddin Owaisi was present, Leona reportedly got on stage and hailed Pakistan in her speech. She was immediately prevented from speaking any further and allegedly, her subsequent lines hailing India got drowned in the chaos. Owaisi distanced himself and his party from her statement.
Soon after, she was arrested and has been in custody ever since. Her bail was rejected on June 10 by a sessions court judge claiming that she would abscond if released from jail or she may get involved in similar offence which will affect the peace at large. When her lawyers argued that mere sloganeering by itself cannot be an offence and that Pakistan is not an enemy nation, the sessions judge Vidyadhar Shirahatti observed, “It is my opinion that there are no materials to show that Pakistan is or not an enemy country. But the slogans which are alleged to have been used by the petitioner will certainly affect the feelings of public, law, order and public peace.”
A magistrate court, on the same day, granted her default bail under section 167(2) of the CrPC since the stipulated period of 90 days in custody had already elapsed. She was granted bail against a surety of Rs. 1 lakh, and on the condition that she would not influence the witnesses in the case. Under section 167 (2) of the CrPC, the magistrate has no authority to detain the accused in custody beyond the statutory period of 60 or 90 days.
The Wire reported that Leona’s lawyers moved the Magistrate Court on June 2 and soon after, on June 3, the police filed a chargesheet, “The default bail then became a full fledged argument with the prosecution citing High court orders and reasons why Amulya should not be out. After a week- long process, the court, on June 10, finally ordered for her release,” said her lawyer, R. Prasanna.
After the incident, parents of Leona, a journalism student hailing from Koppa taluka in Chikkamagaluru district, were reportedly threatened by several right wing organisations for issuing statements condemning her act.
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