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Supreme Court extends stay on proceedings in hate speech case against Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai

K Annamalai has contested from Coimbatore Lok Sabha constituency in the first phase of the ongoing general elections on April 19, aiming for his maiden Lok Sabha term in 2024.

Edited By: Shubham Bajpai New Delhi Published on: April 29, 2024 15:52 IST
BJP Tamil Nadu chief K Annamalai
Image Source : FILE BJP Tamil Nadu chief K Annamalai

In a big relief to the Bhartiya Janta Party Tamil Nadu chief K Annamalai, the Supreme Court on Monday extended the stay on the trial of a criminal case lodged against him for allegedly delivering a hate speech against Christians in an interview to a YouTube channel in October 2022.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta 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. At the beginning of the hearing, the bench noted that it is a private complaint and the state has not been made party in the matter. Appearing for the complainant, senior advocate Indira Jaishingh informed the bench that it is a private complaint and sought additional time to file the counter-affidavit.

It is worth noting that the proceedings in the criminal case against Annamalai were stayed by the apex court on February 26. After going through the transcript of the statements given in the interview, the bench had observed, "Prima facie, there is no hate speech. No case is made out." However, 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. 

What is the case?

Notably, Annamalai has moved the top court challenging a High Court order that had refused to quash the summons issued to him in the case on February 8. The high court had then, observed that the psychological impact on an individual or a group must also be considered under the definition of hate speech. Initially, a summon was issued by the trial court on the complaint of a man named Piyush.

The high court had observed that the BJP state chief had given a 45-minute-long interview to a YouTube channel, and a six-and-a-half-minute excerpt of it was shared on the BJP's X handle on October 22, 2022.

During the interview, Annamalai had said that an internationally funded Christian missionary NGO 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 the Hindu culture, the high court had said.

Annamalai recently went to polls in the first phase of the ensuing Lok Sabha elections on April 19. He has contested from the Coimbatore constituency. He is facing DMK's Ganapathy P. Rajkumar, AIADMK's Singai G. Ramaschandran and NTK's Kalamani Jeganathan. Sitting MP from Communist Party of India (Marxist) PR Natarajan has not contested the poll this time.

(With PTI Inputs)

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