Freedom Forum condemns rearrest of the comedian Apoorva Kshitiz Singh on October 18. Earlier, he was arrested on August 28 for allegedly hurting the sentiment of the Newar community through his standup comedy.
The activists had filed slew of cases against Singh under four different sections:- Section 165 (Prohibition of undermining social rites and rituals), Section 166 (Prohibition of untouchability or discriminatory treatment on ground of caste) and Section 168 (Prohibition of degrading or inhuman treatment) of Chapter 10 (Offenses Relating to Discrimination and Other Degrading Treatment), and Section 65 (Prohibition of acts prejudicial to public tranquility) of Chapter 2 (Offenses against Public Tranquility) of the Criminal Code, 2017.
According to FF’s previous update, Singh was presented in the Kathmandu District Administration Office on August 28, 2022. Then, the administration issued an order to keep him in custody for 10 days for investigation. Thereafter, police submitted the charge sheet at the District Attorney Office after investigation, according to the media reports. Singh was rearrested after the order from the District Attorney Office.
Singh was presented at the court for his statement on October 19.
As FF was calling for immediate release of comedian Singh, the news has come that the court granted him bail over a court guarantee of 2.5 lakhs on October 20.
FF is concerned by the step of Nepal Police and District Attorney Office to muzzle the artistic freedom of a comedian. The malicious prosecution based on overbroad interpretation of law has resulted in punishing-through-the-process effect on the comedian. FF is concerned that these forms of prosecution will cause chilling effect on the exercise of right to freedom of expression. Further, FF requests for civil liberty sensitivity among the law enforcing agencies so as to respect democratic spirit of the nation.