Writer Arundhati Roy, Hurriyat hawk Syed Ali Shah Geelani and others were booked on charges of sedition by Delhi Police for their "anti-India" speech at a seminar in Delhi.
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.
The 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
S 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 told PTI. 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. Kaul, however, expressed disappointment with the omission of Section 121 (waging war or attempting to wage war against country) of IPC from the FIR. "We will approach the court to include this section," he said. Kaul said the registration of the case was a "modest beginning".
"A number of cases has been registered against number of people. But no action has been taken. Registration of case is hardly a deterent to such activities," he said.