Filmmaker Avinash Das, arrested over photos posted to social media, is issued bail

Image Credit: INSTAGRAM/AVINASH DAS Avinash Das

Filmmaker Avinash Das, who was arrested by Gujarat police in a case involving sharing on Twitter a photo of Union Home Secretary Amit Shah with arrested IAS officer Pooja Singhal, was arrested on Thursday by released on bail by a court in Ahmedabad. Metropolitan Magistrate MV Chauhan granted Das on bail on condition that he remain present before the Ahmedabad Crime Branch for the first week of each month until the indictment is filed.

CID arrested Das on Wednesday after picking him up from his home in Mumbai a day earlier. The filmmaker had also been charged with “insulting national honor” by sharing a photo of a painting of a woman holding the national flag on Instagram and Facebook.

The court took him into custody for a day. When he was brought before the court again on Thursday, Das’s lawyer asked for bail for him. The filmmaker did not share any altered or fake photos on social media, argued lawyer Uvesh Malik.

The painting of a woman wearing the tricolor is the original creation of Canada-based artist Nimisha Bhanot and was exhibited during a seminar in Canada on Indian culture and women, he said.

That had merely shared the original painting (his photo) in 2017, which did not constitute a crime as the artwork was not altered or distorted, attorney Malik argued.

Regarding the photo of Shah and Singhal, Malik argued that it was taken during a public event and had already gone viral by the time Das tweeted it. Even the FIR Criminal Division admitted the photo was not fake, he said.

Sharing original artwork and photos that have already been published is not a crime, Malik argued.

After hearing the arguments, the judge granted Das bail on personal bail of Rs 10,000. Das had directed the 2017 film Anaarkali of Aarah starring Swara Bhaskar, Sanjay Mishra and Pankaj Tripathi and the 2021 film Raat Baaki Hai.

He had also directed the Netflix series She.

The Ahmedabad Crime Branch registered a First Information Report against the filmmaker under Section 469 (Forgery) of the Indian Penal Code, as well as the provisions of the Prevention of Insults to National Honor Act and the Information Technology Act on his social media posts. ALSO READ: Gujarat Police Arrest Filmmaker Avinash Das for Tweets to Also Check for Previous ‘Objectionable’ Posts

The FIR against Das, 46, was registered in June after he shared a photo showing Singhal, who had been arrested by law enforcement in a money laundering case, speaking to Shah.

According to FIR, Das claimed in the caption that the picture was taken a few days before Singhal’s arrest, when in fact it was from 2017. This was done with the intention of tarnishing Shah’s image, police claimed.

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