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SC breather for TN BJP chief Annamalai in hate speech case

February 26, 2024 18:36 IST

The Supreme Court on Monday stayed the proceedings in a criminal case lodged against Tamil Nadu Bharatiya Janata Party president K Annamalai for allegedly delivering a hate speech against Christians in an interview to a YouTube channel in October 2022 with regard to bursting firecrackers.

IMAGE: Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai (left) and Tamil Maanila Congress chief GK Vasan (right) address a press conference announcing the Tamil Maanila Congress and BJP alliance for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Chennai, February 26, 2024. Photograph: ANI Photo

After perusing the transcript of the statements given in the interview, a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta observed, "Prima facie, there is no hate speech. No case is made out."


The bench issued a notice to the complainant, who accused Annamalai of delivering a hate speech against Christians in the interview on October 22, 2022 with regard to the bursting of crackers, two days before Diwali.

"Issue notice returnable in the week commencing April 29, 2024. In the meanwhile, there shall be a stay on further proceedings before the trial court," the bench said in its order.

Senior advocate Siddharth Luthra and advocate Sai Deepak, appearing in the court on behalf of Annamalai, showed the transcript of the interview to the bench and said it was not a case of hate speech.

Annamalai has moved the top court challenging a Madras high court order that had refused to quash the summons issued to him in the case.

Refusing to quash the summons on February 8, the high court had observed that the psychological impact on an individual or a group must also be considered under the definition of hate speech.

The summons was issued by the trial court based on a complaint filed by a man named V Piyush.

The high court had noted that Annamalai had given an interview to a YouTube channel, the run-time of which was nearly 44.25 minutes, and a six-and-a-half-minute extract of it was shared on the Bharatiya Janata Party's X (then Twitter) handle on October 22, 2022.

The content of the message was that there was an internationally-funded Christian missionary NGO that was allegedly involved in destroying the Hindu culture by filing cases in the Supreme Court to prevent Hindus from bursting crackers.

Prima facie, the statements disclosed a divisive intent on the petitioner's part to portray the NGO as acting against Hindu culture, the high court had said.

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