The Kerala high court on Monday restrained the police from arresting senior politician and former MLA PC George till May 26 in a criminal case registered against him for making a hate speech.
Considering the anticipatory bail plea moved by George, the high court granted him interim relief with conditions.
The court will next take up the case on Thursday (May 26).
George moved the high court seeking anticipatory bail, days after a sessions court in Thiruvananthapuram denied him bail in the case.
George, who has been untraceable since Saturday, in his bail plea in the high court said the prosecution resorted to a "pick and choose game" and highlighted "stray sentences" from a 40-minute-long speech.
The Kochi city police had registered a case against George on May 10 for his objectionable remarks during a speech, which he delivered in connection with a temple festival at Vennala in Ernakulam district.
George's anticipatory bail was dismissed by the sessions court on Saturday saying his comments prima facie appear to be of such a nature as to promote disharmony, hatred and ill will between communities.
"At any stretch of imagination, the offences as alleged will not be attracted in this case. The prosecution resorted to a pick and choose game and highlighted certain stray sentences from a 40-minute-long speech and unilaterally declared it as offensive which is not justifiable," George said in his anticipatory bail plea in the high court.
George said he was expressing "his anxiety over a negligible percentage of people involving in anti-national terrorist activities".
"These are expressions of a patriot who only wanted the integrity of the nation to be kept intact and to highlight the need of corrective measures," George said.
He also claimed in his plea that his "observations were based on authentic statistics" and some others were what he has pointed out in the legislative assembly.
The sessions court, in its order, had noted that the present speech was made by George within 10 days of his release on bail in the similar case registered at Thiruvananthapuram.
The present case was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 153 (promoting enmity between different groups) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
George, who was the chief whip when the Congress-led United Democratic Front was in power, had earlier sparked off a controversy by asking non-Muslims in Kerala to avoid restaurants run by the community.
Addressing a programme organised as part of the Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelan in Thiruvananthapuram last month, the former Kerala Congress leader had alleged that tea laced with "drops causing impotence" were sold in Muslim-run restaurants to turn people "infertile" in a bid to "seize control" of the country.
As the remarks triggered widespread political controversy, a case was registered and he was arrested on May 1 but was released on bail by a court in Thiruvananthapuram on the same day.
George, who represented the Poonjar constituency in the state Assembly for 33 years, had lost his bastion to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) candidate in the 2021 Assembly polls in a triangular fight.