Probe cases against Thirumurugan Gandhi: High Court

‘Ascertain if the May 17 coordinator is the face of a larger net’

July 10, 2019 07:52 am | Updated 07:52 am IST - CHENNAI

Chennai, 11/4/2008:  Madras High Court  in Chennai on Friday.  Photo: V. Ganesan.

Chennai, 11/4/2008: Madras High Court in Chennai on Friday. Photo: V. Ganesan.

The Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the police to investigate thoroughly a series of cases booked against the coordinator of May 17 Movement Thirumurugan Gandhi for having delivered hate speeches against the Centre, the State government as well the judiciary and find out whether he was only the face of a larger net.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh issued the direction while dismissing a batch of petitions filed by the activist to quash some of the cases pending against him at different police stations in the State. He agreed with State Public Prosecutor A. Natarajan that the speeches had fissiparous and separatist tendencies and therefore the cases could not be quashed.

“Any leader or a speaker who takes to public platform or expresses (his/her views) through social media, must bear it in mind that the Constitution of India does not permit hate speech in the name of freedom of speech and expression. Hate speeches create discord amongst the various ethnic and religious communities.

Punishable under law

“Any speech which disrespects another citizen on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community is forbidden and becomes punishable under Indian Penal Code and various other laws. The responsibility attached to free speech should not be forgotten,” the judge cautioned. After extracting the speeches reportedly delivered by the petitioner at different platforms, the judge said, they show the petitioner “has a clear tendency to get into a vitriolic diatribe whenever he picks up the microphone... The speeches are pregnant with hate spewed against a particular community which is attacked in a vituperative, opprobrious and slanderous manner.”

He pointed out that the petitioner through his speeches had repeatedly attempted to portray as if Tamil Nadu did not belong to India and that every organ was attempting to destroy the State. He has used the choicest of words against the Supreme Court and the High Court and alleged caste-based domination in the judiciary.

“The petitioner must understand that these hate speeches will in no way help or protect the welfare and interest of this State. Spewing venom against a particular community is not going to help the downtrodden come up in the society and become a part of the main stream. On the other hand, it will only sow the seeds of hatred among communities,” the judge advised.

Agreeing that free speech was the foundation of a democratic society, The judge said free exchange of ideas, dissemination of information, airing of different view points and debating in an informed manner should be encouraged subject to restraints which would be zealously watched by the courts.

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