Union min must face probe for jibe on Tamils over Bengaluru blast, says Madras HC

The judge said the matter has to be probed if the minister had stated that people trained in TN had planted the bomb.
A police personnel on guard at Rameshwaram Cafes Brookfield branch, a day after a bomb blast at the cafe in Bengaluru
A police personnel on guard at Rameshwaram Cafes Brookfield branch, a day after a bomb blast at the cafe in Bengaluru(File photo | Allen Egenuse J, EPS)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Wednesday refused to stay the investigation into an FIR against senior BJP leader and Union Minister of State for MSME, Labour and Employment Shobha Karandlage for her comment that people trained in Tamil Nadu planted the bomb at Bengaluru’s Rameshwaram Cafe. The minister had filed a petition praying for quashing the FIR registered by the cyber crime wing of Madurai police.

When the petition came up for hearing before Justice G Jayachandran, the minister’s counsel R Hariprasad said the case was politically motivated and sought an interim injunction against the police from going ahead with the probe.

Government advocate KMD Muhilan submitted that though the National Investigation Agency (NIA) had arrested some persons from West Bengal, they had not made any statements on the suspects. However, the minister had made the statement in public and the video footage (of her comments) showed her intention.

The judge said the matter has to be probed if the minister had stated that people trained in TN had planted the bomb. He said, “You (minister) made the statement even before the NIA held searches in Chennai. It means you are aware of the facts; you know who the trained persons are, who trained them, and what they have done. If you have got some information about the offence, you should have disclosed it to the police. As a responsible citizen, the minister has not done it.”

Shobha Karandlaje
Shobha Karandlaje

The judge refused to grant interim relief for the minister and rejected her request for directing the police to not take any coercive action. He also posted the matter to Friday for further hearing.

The case was filed under Sections 153, 153 A, 505 (1) (b) and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code for provoking with intent to cause rioting, promoting enmity among groups, making statements conducting to public mischief, instigating against the state, and creating enmity between classes based on a complaint lodged by one C Thiagarajan of Madurai.

However, the minister had retracted her comments and apologised for hurting the sentiments of Tamils.

In her petition, she said the complainant did not have the three ingredients of Section 153 — the act (her remarks) must be illegal; the illegal act must be malignantly done; and as a result of which there must be a situation that may cause a riot.

Pointing out that prior sanction from the competent authorities of the government is required to register cases under section 153 of the IPC, she said the absence of sanction under Section 196 of the CrPC vitiates the charges under 153(A), 505(1)(b) and 505(2).

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