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Supreme Court stays criminal proceedings against Tamil Nadu BJP chief K Annamalai, says his remarks are not deemed as hate speech

While dictating the orders, Justice Khanna stated, “It is not hate speech…it will not be…”

On 26th February, the Supreme Court of India stayed criminal proceedings against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu chief, K Annamalai, in the matter related to alleged hate speech against a Christian Missionary NGO. Reportedly, Annamalai remarked during an interview that Christian Missionaries had filed a petition in court against the use of firecrackers in Diwali. His remarks led to legal challenges and accusations of “inciting communal disharmony”.

Presiding the matter, Justice Sanjiv Khanna and Justice Dipankar Datta issued a notice to stay the trial court proceedings against Annamalai. The decision of the apex court to stay the proceedings came after a detailed review of the translated remarks in question. While dictating the orders, Justice Khanna stated, “It is not hate speech…it will not be…”.

The controversy leading to the court case against Annamalai stemmed from an interview where the BJP leader pointed out that a Christian Missionary NGO had filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to ban firecrackers. His statement led to a controversy as the Christian Missionary NGO claimed Annamalai attempted to foster communal unrest. Annamalai filed a plea in the Madras High Court to quash the case against him in the trial court. However, the High Court refused to accept the plea and highlighted the importance of assessing the psychological impact of such statements on the “targeted community”.

However, the Apex court emphasised the need to interpret the speech carefully and the legal consequences. The matter will be next heard on 29th April 2024.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra and J Sai Deepak represented Annamalai in the apex court. They argued that the interview expressed concerns and did not violate peace or incite hatred between the communities.

An individual identified as Piyush had filed a complaint with the DGP, Home Secretary, and the Commissioner of Police, Salem, against Annamalai, arguing that the BJP leader’s comment might lead to communal tensions.

Based on his complaint, a case was registered against Annamalai under Sections 153A and 505(1)(b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). Annamalai challenged the case against him and the entire proceedings, contending it would be against his freedom of speech and expression. Furthermore, he also claimed that the complaint was filed 400 days after the interview was published on YouTube. The Magistrate and High Court observed an offence under the relevant sections.

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Searched termsTamil Nadu BJP
OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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