Court Seeks Mumbai Police’s Reply to Bail Plea of Ranas in Sedition FIR; Couple to Stay in Jail Till April 29

A sessions court in Mumbai on Tuesday asked the Mumbai police to file on April 29 their reply to a bail application of jailed independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband, MLA Ravi Rana. The couple had on Monday moved the court seeking bail in an FIR registered by the Mumbai police against them on charges of sedition and promoting enmity, after they gave a call to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree’ in suburban Bandra.

When the matter came up for hearing in the court on Tuesday, the police said they want to respond with an affidavit to the bail plea. The court accepted this and posted the matter for further hearing on April 29. The Ranas were arrested by the Mumbai police on Saturday.

Ranas’ advocate Rizwan Merchant on Monday said the couple decided to withdraw their bail plea pending before the Bandra magistrate court that had remanded them to 14-day judicial custody on Sunday. Merchant had said the suburban Khar police initially booked the Ranas under Indian Penal Code Section 153(A), for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups. At the time of their remand, the police informed the magistrate court that they had added the charge of sedition, under IPC Section 124A, against the couple in the first FIR.

Their bail plea said the call to recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside ‘Matoshree’ was not a calculated move to promote feelings of enmity or hatred and the charge under section 153(A) cannot be sustained. There was no intention on part of the applicants to instigate or create hatred by offering Hanuman Chalisa near ‘Matoshree’, the couple said in their plea. It is submitted that by no stretch of imagination can the acts of the applicants be stated to constitute the offence of sedition, the plea said.

Further, the Mumbai police had issued notice under section 149 of the CrPC and the applicant (Navneet Rana) had complied with the police’s direction and not stepped out of her residence, it added. Navneet Rana, the Lok Sabha MP from Amravati in eastern Maharashtra, and Ravi Rana, the MLA from Badnera in Amravati, had eventually dropped their plan to recite the Hanuman Chalisa (hymns dedicated to Lord Hanuman) on Saturday outside Thackeray’s home, citing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mumbai for an event on Sunday.

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