Supreme Court extends stay on proceedings in hate speech case against Tamil Nadu BJP President K Annamalai [29.4.2024]

The Supreme Court on Monday extended the stay on the trial of a criminal case lodged 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.

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 outset, the bench noted that it is a private complaint and the state has not been made party in the matter.

Senior advocate Indira Jaisingh, appearing for the complainant, V Piyush, informed that it is a private complaint and sought some time to file the counter-affidavit.

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

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

Annamalai has moved the top court challenging a February 8 Madras High Court order that had refused to quash the summons issued to him in the case.

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 Piyush's complaint.

The high court had noted that Annamalai had given an interview to a YouTube channel, the run-time of which was nearly 45 minutes, and a six-and-a-half-minute excerpt of it was shared on the BJP's X handle on October 22, 2022.

The content of the message was 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.

29 Apr 2024