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HC allows govt to transfer probe to CID in FIRs against Editor

Bombay High Court

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today allowed the plea of Maharashtra government to hand over the probe to CID into the FIRs registered against the Editor of Urdu daily Shirin Dalvi who is at the centre of a row over publishing the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo that featured a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad.

A bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudessai allowed an application filed by the government seeking to transfer the investigations from five different police stations to CID.

The Judges also directed the clubbing of all the five FIRs lodged against the Editor and asked CID to complete the probe.

The bench further ruled that the interim order, passed by it earlier, restraining the police from arresting Dalvi, Editor of Urdu newspaper ‘Awadhnama,’ would continue till further investigations concluded.

46-year-old Dalvi, a resident of Mumbra in nearby Thane district, has sought quashing of the cases against her and also clubbing together of all cases filed against her following the publication of the cartoon, while she prayed for a direction to prevent the government and police from taking coercive action against her, including arrest.

The newspaper had reproduced the cartoon published by French Satirical magazine ‘Charlie Hebdo’, the target of an attack by Islamist militants last month.

Altogether, five cases have been filed against Dalvi under section 295 A of IPC which deals with outraging religious feelings of people with deliberate and malicious intent. The cases include two in Mumbai, two in Thane and one in Malegaon, according to public prosecutor S S Shinde.

The Editor pleaded that she was the only woman Editor of an Urdu daily newspaper in India and that due to the events following publication of the Prophet’s cartoon she is facing threats of physical attacks. Several FIRs have been filed against her and she also had to abondon her home.

Dalvi further said that her children had to discontinue their education and were compelled to go incognito along with their mother out of fear of physical harm.

The newspaper had published the cartoon on January 17 and the very next day it had apologised for carrying it. On January 19, the newspaper had closed down as it apprehended violence.

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