BHUBANESWAR — The Odisha government on Tuesday decided to grant pardon to Abhijit Iyer Mitra, who is lodged in jail for allegedly making derogatory remarks against the state, its people and culture, officials said.
The decision came following Mitra's prayer to Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to consider withholding sanction to prosecute him in certain criminal cases pending against him, a home department official said.
"He (Mitra) has appealed to the chief minister to accept his apology and contrition in having wounded the sentiments of people of Odisha without intention," the official said.
Mitra had further mentioned in his representation that in consideration of his unconditional apology in having hurt the sentiments of the people of Odisha "unintentionally without malice and mal-intent", the Odisha Assembly pardoned him on 17 November.
"Taking into account his representation, the government decided not to accord sanction of prosecution in cases where prosecution has been sought for and also decided to take steps to withdraw other cases pending against him by following laid-down procedures," the official said.
The Delhi-based journalist and researcher was arrested on 21 October after he posted a video on his Twitter handle, allegedly criticising Odisha, Lord Jagannath, Konark temple and the Odisha lawmakers.
Two cases were registered against Mitra at Saheed Nagar Police Station in Bhubaneswar and Konark Police Station in Puri district.
He was arrested under various sections of IPC, Information Technology Act and Ancient Monument & Archaeological sites & Remains Act.
In his petition to the state government, Mitra requested the chief minister and the chief secretary to withdraw the sanctions prosecuting him under Section 196 of the CrPC.
He also apologised for the video saying he didn't intend to hurt the sentiments of the people of Odisha.
The Odisha Assembly had on 17 November pardoned Mitra after he tendered an unconditional and unreserved apology for his statement against the lawmakers.
The assembly accepted the recommendations made by a House Committee which was set up to enquire into the question of alleged breach of privilege relating to the statement made by Mitra.
The committee was set up on 20 September following concerns expressed by MLAs cutting across party lines.
Mitra, who has been lodged at the high-security Jharpada Special Jail in the state capital, was admitted to a hospital in Bhubaneswar after he complained of illness on 2 December.