Mumbai: Maharashtra independent MP Navneet Rana, and her MLA husband Ravi Rana will continue to remain in jail after a Mumbai Sessions court on Saturday, April 30, reserved its order for further hearing on May 2.
The couple was arrested on April 23 after they gave a call to recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray’s private residence ‘Matoshree.’ The Ranas eventually dropped their plan, but were arrested by the police and booked for sedition and `promoting enmity between different groups. They are currently in judicial custody. While Navneet Rana is lodged in Byculla prison, her husband is in Taloja jail in neighboring Navi Mumbai.
During Saturday’s hearing, advocates Rizwan Merchant and Abad Ponda appeared for the Rana couple, while SPP Pradeep Gharat argued for Mumbai’s Khar police station.
Ponda said that had the Rana couple given a call to chant Hanuman Chalisa outside a mosque, it would have been understandably questionable for triggering possibilities of “religious tensions”. “But giving a call to chant it (Hanuman Chalisa) outside Matoshree doesn’t fan any communal tension,” he was quoted as saying by news agency.
Advocate Ponda further stated that the sole “intent to commit a crime” cannot be punished. “Executing some intent and actually committing an offense can be punished,” he added.
“Criticism of government is the essence of democracy. In fact, democracy is a criticism of the govt,” Ponda told the Sessions court, quoting an order by the Supreme Court on a case of sedition.
If someone says that chanting Hanuman Chalisa is their right, it is. But we've to see if the act is legal, permissions & consent are taken by the person at whose residence chanting will be done… ultimate aim was to create a situation where this govt collapses:SPP Pradeep Gharat
— ANI (@ANI) April 30, 2022
Gharat, meanwhile, said that while chanting Hanuman Chalisa is indeed one’s right, it has to be kept in mind if the act is “legal” and that permissions and consent for the same are taken by the person at whose residence chanting will be done.
“Ultimate aim was to create a situation where this govt (Maharashtra regime) collapses,” Gharat was quoted as saying by news agency.
He also told the Sessions court that the Rana couple is booked in several other cases. “MLA Ravi Rana has been booked in 17 cases earlier and MP Navneet Rana in six cases. An attempt to murder charge is on Ravi Rana,” Gharat said.
On Friday, a magistrate’s court rejected the Rana couple’s applications seeking homemade food in jail. They had filed applications for the same on Thursday. They are currently in judicial custody, with Navneet lodged in Mumbai’s Byculla women’s prison, while Ravi is in Taloja jail in neighbouring Navi Mumbai.
Navneet is an MP from Amravati and Ravi is an MLA from Badnera in eastern Maharashtra.