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Hanuman Chalisa Row: Centre Seeks Factual Report From Maharashtra On MP Navneet Rana's Complaint

The Union Home Ministry has sought a factual report from the Maharashtra government over Independent Lok Sabha MP Navneet Rana's allegation about her arrest and inhumane treatment by the police.

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MLA Ravi Rana and his wife MP Navneet Rana PTI

A sessions court here on Tuesday asked the Mumbai police to file on April 29 their reply to a bail application of jailed independent MP Navneet Rana and her MLA husband, MLA Ravi Rana.

The couple had on Monday moved the court seeking bail in an FIR registered by the Mumbai police against them on charges of sedition and promoting enmity, after they gave a call to recite Hanuman Chalisa outside Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence 'Matoshree' in suburban Bandra.

When the matter came up for hearing in the court on Tuesday, the police said they want to respond with an affidavit to the bail plea. The court accepted this and posted the matter for further hearing on April 29.

The Ranas were arrested by the Mumbai police on Saturday. Ranas' advocate Rizwan Merchant on Monday said the couple decided to withdraw their bail plea pending before the Bandra magistrate court that had remanded them to 14-day judicial custody on Sunday.

Merchant had said the suburban Khar police initially booked the Ranas under Indian Penal Code Section 153(A), for allegedly promoting enmity between different groups. At the time of their remand, the police informed the magistrate court that they had added the charge of sedition, under IPC Section 124A, against the couple in the first FIR.

Their bail plea said the call to recite the Hanuman Chalisa outside 'Matoshree' was not a calculated move to promote feelings of enmity or hatred and the charge under section 153(A) cannot be sustained.There was no intention on part of the applicants to instigate or create hatred by offering Hanuman Chalisa near 'Matoshree', the couple said in their plea.

It is submitted that by no stretch of imagination can the acts of the applicants be stated to constitute the offence of sedition, the plea said. Further, the Mumbai police had issued notice under section 149 of the CrPC and the applicant (Navneet Rana) had complied with the police's direction and not stepped out of her residence, it added.

Navneet Rana, the Lok Sabha MP from Amravati in eastern Maharashtra, and Ravi Rana, the MLA from Badnera in Amravati, had eventually dropped their plan to recite the Hanuman Chalisa (hymns dedicated to Lord Hanuman) on Saturday outside Thackeray's home, citing the visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Mumbai for an event on Sunday.

The Union Home Ministry has sought a factual report from the Maharashtra government over Independent Lok Sabha MP Navneet Rana's allegation about her arrest and "inhumane treatment" by the police, officials said.

The Amaravati MP was arrested on Saturday along with her MLA-husband Ravi Rana for giving a call for the chanting of the Hanuman Chalisa outside Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray's private residence 'Matoshree' in Mumbai.

The home ministry sought a factual report from the Maharashtra government on Rana's allegation about her arrest and "inhuman treatment" allegedly meted out at Mumbai's Khar police station, a home ministry official said.

The move came after the Lok Sabha Privilege and Ethics Committee asked the Home Ministry to seek a report from the Maharashtra government. The lawmaker couple was slapped with a sedition charge.

The Lok Sabha MP has demanded strict action against Mumbai Police Commissioner Sanjay Pandey and claimed the action against her and her husband was taken on directions of the Maharashtra chief minister. The couple, now in jail, later withdrew their call, citing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's visit to Mumbai for an event.

(with inputs from PTI) 

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