SC stays criminal proceedings against TN BJP chief Annamalai

New Delhi, Feb 26 (IANS): In an interim order, the Supreme Court on Monday stayed criminal proceedings initiated against Tamil Nadu BJP President K. Annamalai -- who in an interview given to a YouTube channel in October 2022 -- claimed that it was a Christian NGO that had first filed a case to ban use of crackers during Diwali.

Observing that prima facie no case of hate speech is made out, a bench presided over by Justice Sanjiv Khanna ordered stay on further proceedings pending before the trial court.

The bench, also comprising Justice Dipankar Datta, issued notice to the complainant V. Piyush -- the social activist who had instituted a case before the Salem's magistrate court against Annamalai.

The matter is ordered to be listed in the week commencing April 29, 2024.

Recently, the Madras High Court dismissed the petition filed by the BJP leader seeking quashing of the criminal case.

A bench of Justice Anand Venkatesh observed that the interview of Annamalai disclosed a divisive intent on the part of the petitioner to project that a Christian NGO was acting against Hindu culture.

"The intent behind the statement could be gathered from the fact that though the interview spanned for about 40 minutes, a shorter 6.5 minute footage, in which he claimed that it was a Christian NGO which filed the first case, had been edited out and tweeted through the official X handle of Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Tamil Nadu unit."

Annamalai had given an interview to a YouTube channel on October 22, 2022, just two days before Diwali that year, alleging that it was a Christian NGO that had first filed a case to ban use of crackers during the festival.

In his petition, the complainant alleged that the BJP leader had deliberately fanned communal hatred by "lying" that it was a missionary NGO that filed a case against bursting crackers during Diwali celebrations.

The Salem magistrate court had taken cognisance of the complaint and issued notice to BJP leader against which he had moved the Madras High Court.


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Title: SC stays criminal proceedings against TN BJP chief Annamalai

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