The Gujarat High Court on Monday rejected the anticipatory bail application of filmmaker Avinash Das in a case registered by the Ahmedabad police for sharing a photo of Union Home Minister Amit Shah with an arrested IAS officer and a painting allegedly insulting the national flag on social media platforms.
The Mumbai-based filmmaker, through his lawyer, offered to submit an unconditional apology before the court for his "mistake".
While rejecting the plea, the court of Justice Nikhi S Kariel observed that in its considered view, the applicant (Das) violated the provisions of the Prevention of Insults to the National Honour Act by circulating a painting showing a person wearing a dress made of the tricolour. Since prima facie it appears that he insulted the national flag, the court would be very circumspect of releasing the applicant at this stage, the HC said in its order.
On the photo shared by the applicant on his Twitter account of Amit Shah with arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal of the Jharkhand cadre, Das lawyer MM Tirmizi said the offence for the same under 469 of the IPC (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) was bailable, and therefore he would not press for it in the present application.
"Before we proceed further, it may be remembered that from time immemorial people have laid down their lives with a view to salute their own flag. What is so compelling in the piece of cloth called the national flag that people make even the supreme sacrifice for its sake? The national flag, indisputably, stands for the whole nation, its ideals, aspirations, its hopes and achievements." the court observed.
The lawyer for the Mumbai-based filmmaker submitted that the photograph/painting was circulated by his client for its "aesthetic" value, and beyond the same, he had no other intention whatsoever. He also submitted that the applicant was ready to submit an unconditional apology for the "mistake".
Das had approached the HC after a sessions court here rejected his anticipatory bail plea. Before that, the Bombay High Court had rejected his transit anticipatory bail application.
The Ahmedabad city crime branch had registered an FIR against the 46-year-old filmmaker after he recently shared an old photo showing suspended IAS officer Singhal, who was arrested by the Enforcement Directorate in a money laundering case, whispering something to Shah. As per the FIR, Das claimed in the caption of the photo that it was taken a few days before Singhal’s arrest last month though the picture dates back to 2017. This was done with an intention to tarnish Shah’s image.
He was also booked for allegedly insulting national honour by sharing a photo on his Instagram and Facebook accounts of a woman wearing the tricolour. The offence, if established, invites a maximum jail term of three years.
The filmmaker was booked under sections 469 of the IPC (forgery for purpose of harming reputation) for sharing the photo featuring Shah and the tainted bureaucrat and section 2 of the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act and also the Information Technology Act.Das has directed the 2017 film 'Anaarkali of Aarah', starring Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi, and 'Raat Baaki Hai', which released in 2021. He has also helmed a Netflix series called 'She'.