A camp court at Bhubaneshwar’s Jharpada Jail on Tuesday declined defence analyst Abhijit Iyer-Mitra’s bail plea. Iyer-Mitra has been in custody since October 24 on charge of hurting the religious sentiments of the people of Odisha. He was arrested on the basis of an FIR filed Saheed Nagar police station his social media posts in which he made “unpalatable and irresponsible remarks” about the Konark temple “with an intention to outrage religious feelings which may create communal friction”. In one of his tweets, Iyer-Mitra had said that the Jagannath idol at a temple in Puri was actually from Kolkata and had been stolen “by evil Kalinga demon kings”.
The camp court – a court assembled inside a prison to adjudicate a case instead of taking the accused to a local court – heard Iyer-Mitra’s bail plea on November 5 and rejected it on November 8. However, the order was made public only on Tuesday, his lawyer Nikhil Mehra was quoted by Scroll.in as saying. The Scroll.in report also quoted Mehra as saying that no lawyers were allowed to attend the bail proceedings.
That apart, the man has already profusely apologized several times, in public & at a hearing of the state assembly committee formed for this.
The FoE issue will be decided by courts, but we Odias shd show that besides being able to take offence, we are as capable of magnanimity? https://t.co/HhH72wqinJ
— Baijayant Jay Panda (@PandaJay) November 13, 2018
Bail application of @Iyervval rejected today. So he has so far spent 20 days in jail for jokes that many in #Odisha felt were obnoxious. In contrast, Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of rape only spent some 21 days in jail b4 being granted bail. Mockery of law?
— Ruben Banerjee (@Rubenbanerjee) November 13, 2018
1:The Odisha govt must release journalist, Abhijit Iyer-Mitra who was arrested for making a sarcastic comment on two temples in Odisha. The right to #freedomofexpression extends to speech that may be considered offensive by some. A criminal case for such conduct is not justified.
— Amnesty India (@AIIndia) November 12, 2018
Iyer-Mitra was first arrested by Odisha police on September 20 but was subsequently released after a Delhi court denied permission to police to take him to Odisha on transit remand and had granted him limited bail, asking him to join the investigation. He failed to join the investigation, claiming that there was a threat on his life. The Supreme Court on October 4 refused to grant him bail, saying jail was the “safest place” for him.
He had on October 23 appeared before a committee of the state assembly and tendered an unconditional apology for his “anti-Odisha” remarks, after which he was arrested by police. His initial 14-day judicial custody had ended on November 5, after which his lawyer had moved the bail plea before the camp court on Tuesday.