A court in Thane district has granted interim protection from arrest to Marathi rapper Raj Mungase till April 25 in a case registered against him for allegedly defaming the Eknath Shinde-led Maharashtra government through his video song. Additional Sessions Judge at Kalyan, R G Waghmare, while granting the interim relief to Mungase on Wednesday, directed the Ambernath police, who have registered the offence against the rapper, to submit their reply on his plea seeking anticipatory bail. The court will hear the matter on April 25.
A Shiv Sena activist at Ambernath in Thane district had lodged a complaint against rap singer Mungase over a song he recently uploaded on YouTube which uses words such as “pannas khoke” (fifty cartons) and “chor” (thieves), an official earlier said. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered against Mungase earlier this month under Indian Penal Code sections 501 (defamation), 504 (intentional insult to provoke breach of peace) and 505(2) (statements creating enmity between classes) at Shivajinagar police station in Ambernath.
Leaders loyal to Shiv Sena (UBT) leader Uddhav Thackeray have often accused MLAs of the Eknath Shinde-led Shiv Sena, who rebelled last year and brought down the Thackeray government, as “chor” and ones who took “khoke” or cartons of money to switch sides.
Shinde became chief minister last year with the Bharatiya Janata Party’s support a split in the Shiv Sena. In his plea, the rapper said his video song was against the injustice faced by common people and was not targeted against any one in particular.
Mungase said he was raising social issues through his art form. He also said as his video was in the public domain, the police need not arrest him and his custodial interrogation was not necessary. The rap singer also submitted that registration of an offence itself is curbing the democratic rights of citizens pertaining to the freedom of speech and expression, which are guaranteed under the Constitution.
After the case was registered against Mungase, Nationalist Congress Party leader and former Maharashtra minister Jitendra Awhad had shared the rapper’s video song on Twitter and said he hoped police would not arrest him. In another tweet, Awhad questioned what crime Mungase had committed.