Delhi lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena has approved the prosecution of Shehla Rashid, former vice-president of the Jawaharlal Nehru University Students’ Union, for tweets about the Army allegedly “aimed at promoting enmity” and for “acts prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony”, officials aware of the matter said on Tuesday.
Rashid was, in September 2019, booked on a complaint by lawyer Alakh Alok Srivastava’s over her tweets a month prior, which accused the armed forces of ransacking houses and “creating an environment of fear” in Kashmir.
The Army rejected the allegations and said such “unverified and fake news are spread by inimical elements and organizations to incite unsuspecting population”, according to news agency ANI.
A Delhi government official said that prosecution sanction from competent authority is required under section 153A of the Indian Penal Code to prosecute the accused. The official said the file was routed through the elected government before the LG gave prosecution sanction.
The Delhi government’s home department, in its opinion on the matter, said the nature of the case, the location to which the tweets refer to, and false allegations against the Army make it a serious issue, officials said, seeking anonymity.
“Not every tweet is to be proceeded with, under criminal law. But the tweet of the kind in this case needs to be processed against religious fault-lines have been created in J&K by the likes of Shehla Rashid,” said a department official aware of the development. HT has not seen the document. “The case is made of for prosecution u/s 153A IPC (Indian Penal Code). This relates to public order.”
Saxena granted the sanction under the Code of Criminal Procedure’s section 196 that relates to offences against the state.
There was no immediate reaction from Rashid, who faces imprisonment for up to three years if convicted.