Minister faces charges in case of disrespect to National Anthem

The recent meeting of Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor, who is facing a criminal case in connection with the alleged show of disrespect to the National Anthem, with Chief Justice Manjula Chellur at the High Court complex has triggered a controversy.

The Minister paid a visit to the office of the Chief Justice at the High Court complex on January 7 when the Pravasi Bharatiya Divas meet was on in the city.

He came to the High Court complex reportedly by around 5.30 p.m, breezed through the front entrance to the chamber of the Chief Justice on the fourth floor.

B. Rajendran, general secretary of the State committee of the All India Lawyers’ Union, said the visit of Mr. Tharoor who was facing criminal proceedings had to be viewed very seriously. He expressed concern over the action of Mr. Tharoor which, according to him, would only help lower the dignity of the judicial system and erode the confidence of the people in it.

Care should be taken to see that the higher values of the judicial system and the confidence of the people in the judiciary were maintained, he said.

However, sources at the High Court said the visit was only a “courtesy call” by Mr. Tharoor. He met the Chief Justice in the presence of High Court Registrar General Kemal Pasha and other officials, they said. The sources, however, declined to reveal what transpired between the Chief Justice and Mr. Tharoor.

A petition filed by Mr. Tharoor challenging the criminal proceeding initiated against him was pending before the High Court. The court of Justice V.K. Mohanan had later reserved its order on the petition.

The magistrate court had initiated the proceedings against Mr. Tharoor on a complaint filed by Human Rights Protection Centre general secretary Joy Kaitharath. The magistrate court had found that there was a prima facie ground to proceed with the complaint that he had committed offences under Section 3 of Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1977.

In his complaint, Mr. Kaitharath had alleged that on December 16, 2008, Mr. Tharoor had interrupted the singing of the National Anthem. After a public lecture by Mr. Tharoor in Kochi, he had taken a microphone from the table and directed the audience to stand in the manner people did in the U.S. with their right palm placed on their chest, instead of the attention posture followed by Indians so far.

In his petition, Mr. Tharoor had contended that that he had not violated the provisions of the Act.

He had alleged that the private complaint was solely motivated by ‘political consideration’ and continuance of the proceedings would amount to his ‘intense harassment’.

The court had earlier ordered the Ernakulam Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate Court to defer the framing of charges against Mr. Tharoor.

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