Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena accorded sanction for prosecution of author Arundhati Roy

Debjit Mukherjee: Delhi Lt Governor V K Saxena has accorded sanction for the prosecution of author Arundhati Roy and a former Kashmiri professor in a 2010 case related to provocative speeches allegedly made at a conference here, Raj Niwas officials said on Tuesday.

The FIR against Roy and former professor Sheikh Showkat Hussain was registered following the orders of the Court of Metropolitan Magistrate, New Delhi, they said.

“LG V K Saxena noted that prima facie a case is made out against Roy and Dr Hussain, former Professor, International Law, Central University of Kashmir,” a Raj Niwas official said on Tuesday.

The person said the two were charged under sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 153B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration), and 505 (public mischief through statements) of the Indian Penal Code.

Under Section 196(1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CrPC), a valid sanction for prosecution from the state government is a prerequisite for certain offences such as hate speech, hurting religious sentiments, hate crimes, sedition, waging war against state, and promoting enmity.

Two other accused — Kashmiri separatist leader Sayed Ali Shah Geelani and a Delhi University lecturer Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, who was acquitted by the Supreme Court in Parliament attack case on technical grounds — died in the meantime.

Sushil Pandit, a social activist from Kashmir, had filed a complaint on October 28, 2010 at the Tilak Marg Police Station alleging that several people made “provocative speeches” at a conference organised by the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners under the banner ‘Azadi – The Only Way’ on October 21.

Pandit had alleged that participants at the conference discussed and propagated “Separation of Kashmir from India.” He later filed a complaint before the court of Metropolitan Magistrate.

The FIR in the case was registered on November 29, 2010 for several offences, including sedition and under Section 13 of Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Besides Roy, Hussain, Syed Ali Shah Geelani, who was also Chairman of Tehreek-e-Hurriyat, and SAR Geelani, others present on the occasion included Varavara Rao, an accused in the Bhima-Koregaon case.

“Syed Ali Shah Geelani and Arundhati Roy, strongly propagated that Kashmir was never the part of India and was forcibly occupied by Armed Forces of India and every possible effort should be made for the independence of the State of J&K from India.

“The statements of some of the speakers during the conference were mentioned by the complainant in his complaint,” the official said.

The transcripts of speeches given by Roy, SAR Geelani, and SAS Geelani and two exhibits — a CD and DVD — sent for forensic examination at the computer division of CFSL in 2017 — were submitted as evidence against the speakers.