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Hanuman Chalisa row: MP-MLA couple may be released on Thursday

Last updated on: May 04, 2022 21:19 IST
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More than a week after they were arrested in an alleged case of sedition, Amravati member of Parliament Navneet Rana and her husband and MLA Ravi Rana were granted bail by a court in Mumbai on Wednesday.

Navneet and her husband Ravi Rana, MLA from Badnera in Amravati district, were likely to be released on Thursday as the necessary documents did not reach the prisons where they are lodged in time, their lawyers said.

The couple were arrested  by Mumbai police on April 23. The Ranas had announced that they would recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence `Matoshree' in Mumbai, which angered workers of the Shiv Sena, Thackeray's party, leading to tension.

The couple later dropped the plan, citing visit by prime minister Narendra Modi to the city the next day.

But the police, nonetheless, booked them for sedition and `promoting enmity between different groups' among other offences.


Judge R N Rokade of the special court for hearing cases against MPs and MLAs laid down several conditions while granting them bail.

The accused shall not commit similar offences while being at large and shall not talk to the media on the subjects related to the case, he said.

Ranas shall make themselves available for interrogation by the investigating officer as and when called, the court said, adding the investigating officer should give them at  least 24 hours' notice through e-mail or their registered mobile numbers.

They shall not influence any witnesses or tamper with evidence or try to interfere with the investigation, the court said, adding that the breach of any condition would lead to the cancellation of bail forthwith.

The bail application, filed through advocates Rizwan Merchant and Abad Ponda, had claimed that the call to recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Matoshree cannot be said to be an act to promote feelings of enmity or hatred under section 153(A).

Similarly, "by no stretch of imagination" their acts could be stated to constitute the offence of sedition, it added.

The police, represented by special public prosecutor Pradeep Gharat, opposed the bail application, arguing that while on the face of it their plan seemed innocent, it was a big conspiracy to challenge the state government.

The opposition Bharatiya Janata Party and political opponents of Uddhav Thackeray were trying to create an atmosphere to show that the Chief Minister was against the Hindus, the prosecution alleged.

Meanwhile, a team of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation visited the Ranas' flat in suburban Khar but returned as the house was locked.

There was a complaint about illegal construction on the eighth floor of the Lavie building where the Ranas have an apartment, an official said.

The BMC team is likely to visit the house on Thursday or Friday, he added.

Speaking to reporters in Nagpur, BJP leader Devendra Fadnavis said the Mumbai police's decision to arrest the couple `for reciting the Hanuman Chalisa' was "foolishness", and the grant of bail by the court proved that.

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