Hate Speech: SC Extends Stay on Proceedings against BJP Leader K Annamalai

K Annamalai_LegallySpeaking

The Supreme Court on Monday extended the stay on the trial of a criminal case filed against Tamil Nadu BJP president K Annamalai for allegedly delivering a hate speech against Christians in an interview to a YouTube channel in October 2022.

The Bench

A bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta instructed 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 stated. Initially, the bench noted it is a private complaint, and the state has not been made party to the matter.

Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, representing the complainant, V Piyush, disclosed it is a private complaint and requested time to file the counter-affidavit.

Previous Hearing

The proceedings in the criminal case against Annamalai were stayed by the top court on February 26.

After reviewing the transcript of the interview statements, the bench had remarked, “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 the hate speech against Christians in the October 22, 2022 interview regarding the bursting of crackers two days before Diwali.

Madras High Court

The BJP Leader approached the apex court challenging a February 8 Madras High Court order that had declined to quash the summons issued to him in the case.

The high court emphasized 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 Piyush’s complaint.

The high court highlighted that Annamalai had participated in an interview with a YouTube channel, where a six-and-a-half-minute excerpt was shared on the BJP’s X handle on October 22, 2022.

The content of the message suggested 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.

The high court found the statements prima facie disclosed a divisive intent on the petitioner’s part to portray the NGO as acting against Hindu culture.

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