The Madras High Court on Thursday pulled up pro-Tamil activist Thirumurugan Gandhi, who is facing a slew of cases over his remarks against the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government on various issues, while granting conditional anticipatory bail to him and others. Justice G K Ilanthiraiyan, passing orders on the petitions by Gandhi, founder of the May 17 Movement, and others said they shall not make such speeches in public meetings.
He also directed them to appear before a city police station for two weeks and thereafter, as and when required for interrogation. According to the prosecution, the speeches by Gandhi and others at various public meetings on issues such as Cauvery river water sharing, Pulwama attack and Sterlite protests attracted charges, including under IPC sections 153A (1)(a) and 505.
The judge in his order said, "... it is seen from the speeches of the petitioners it is not appreciable one. Though the petitioners have right to freedom of speech under the Constitution, their speech is a condemnable one, there should be certain limitations." Referring to section 153 of the IPC, he said, "It is seen from the allegations that the petitioner in all the petitions have spoken in the protest meeting against the state government of Tamil Nadu as well as the Union government of India."
"It is relevant to point out that to attract the offence under section 153A of IPC, there must be speech with intention to promote disharmony or feeling of hatred or ill-will between different religious, racial, linguistic or regional groups or castes or communities," he observed. However, as seen in the FIR, the petitioners had only condemned the action of the state government as well as the Union government and it would not attract charges under sections 153A of the IPC, the judge held.
He noted that it would also not attract charges under section 505 of the IPC and granted conditional anticipatory bail to Gandhi and others.
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