HC extends relief to Urdu Editor in Prophet’s cartoon row

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The Bombay High Court extended by a week the interim order for protection from arrest granted to the Editor of an Urdu daily caught in a row over publishing the cover of French magazine Charlie Hebdo that featured a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad.

A division bench of Justices Ranjit More and Anuja Prabhudesai said the protection granted earlier to Shirin Dalvi, Editor of Urdu newspaper Awadhnama, would continue till February 17 when the matter would be heard again after the public prosecutor in the case did not turn up.

The public prosecutor was scheduled to present the government’s stand on the relief sought by 46-year-old Dalvi to quash all FIRs registered against her in connection with reproducing of the cartoon of the Prophet, considered blasphemous in Islam, or club the cases together.

In an interim order on Monday, the court had restrained the state government and the police from taking any coercive action, including arrest.

The Mumbai edition of the newspaper was shut down following publication of the cartoon last month for fear of violence even after its management and the Editor had tendered apologies.

‘Charlie Hebdo’, a French satire magazine, was recently the target of an attack by Islamist militants.

Altogether, five cases have been filed against Dalvi under section 295 A of IPC for outraging religious feelings with deliberate and malacious intent. The cases include two in Mumbai, as many in Thane and one in Malegaon.

Dalvi had secured a regular bail soon after her arrest in the first case filed in neighbouring Mumbra town, while she got anticipatory bail in the one filed at N M Joshi Marg police station in Mumbai.

Dalvi had said she was being “hounded” and faced threats of physical attacks.