Supreme Court extends stay on trial of BJP chief K Annamalai over alleged hate speech

Annamalai had moved the SC and filed an appeal challenging his petition's dismissal of the Madras HC's of Feb 08, which refused to quash the criminal proceedings against him in the hate speech case.
TN BJP president K Annamalai
TN BJP president K AnnamalaiFile photo

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Monday in its order extended the stay on the trial and criminal proceedings lodged against Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai for allegedly delivering a hate speech against Christians in an interview to a YouTube channel in October 2022.

Extending its earlier order of February 26, a two-judge bench of the top court, led by Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta granted further relief to Annamalai till September 09, and asked the complainant to file his response within six weeks.

"Interim order to continue. Re-list the matter in the week commencing September 9," the bench said in its order.

Annamalai had moved the Supreme Court and filed an appeal challenging the dismissal of his petition of the Madras High Court's of February 08, which refused to quash the criminal proceedings against him in the hate speech case.

The Apex Court found substance and merit in Annamalai's appeal and allowed it.

In one of its earlier hearings, the Supreme Court, while granting relief to Annamalai, had observed that on the face of it, Annamalai’s remarks do not constitute the offence under section 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race etc.), of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). It thereby granted him relief of staying the trial courts criminal proceedings against him.

Justice N Anand Venkatesh of the Madras HC, while dismissing Annamalai's plea, in his order, had on February 08, said that the TN BJP chief's alleged pre-Diwali remarks against a Christian NGO in connection with the bursting of crackers were prima facie aimed at inflaming communal tension.

The HC judge, dismissed Annamalai's plea, after relying on one of the apex court’s orders to flag the potential of hate speech to act as a ticking bomb.

In his defence, Annamalai, however, claimed that his comments had not caused any disturbance to public tranquility so far, and he is innocent in the case.

According to the prosecution, Annamalai, in an interview with a YouTube channel just two days before the 2022 Diwali, had allegedly made certain divisive remarks that a Christian NGO was behind a legal challenge in the Supreme Court to the bursting of crackers during the festival in its bid to attack the Hindu culture.

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The New Indian Express