The Madras High Court, dismissing a petition filed by BJP state president K Annamalai on Thursday seeking to cancel summons granted to him in a case, expressed the view that the psychological impact on an individual or group must also be be considered under the definition of hate. speech.
Justice N Anand Venkatesh made this observation while dismissing Annamalai’s petition seeking cancellation of the summons issued by a Salem magistrate.
The summons was issued following a complaint by a person named V Piyush, who accused Annamalai of making hate speech against Christians in an interview to a YouTube channel on October 22, 2022, in connection with the explosion of crackers, just two days. before Diwali.
Coming to his observation, the judge noted that Annamalai had given an interview to a YouTube channel, the duration of which is nearly 44.25 minutes, the 6.5-minute excerpt of which was shared on BJP’s channel X on October 22. 2022. This date is significant. as Diwali was only two days away, the judge added.
The content of the message was that there was an internationally funded Christian missionary NGO that is allegedly involved in the total destruction of Hindu culture by filing cases in the Supreme Court to stop Hindus from bursting crackers.
Prima facie, the statements reveal a divisive intention on the part of the petitioner to portray a Christian NGO as acting against Hindu culture, the judge said.
The intent can be inferred from the timing of the statements, made two days before the Diwali festival, the judge added, saying it was also evident from the fact that this particular excerpt of the interview was extracted from the main interview and shared on the BJP’s X handle.
Justice Venkatesh said the petitioner, who had been a senior IPS officer and current president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu state unit, was expected to know the laws of the country.
Furthermore, being a well-known leader and mass influencer, he would have been aware that his statements would have wide reach and influence on the people, particularly those belonging to the Hindu religion, the judge said.
The target of Annamalai’s speech was a particular religious group and what he told them was that the minority religious group was trying to destroy the culture of the majority religious group, the judge further noted.
It is clear that there is a prima facie intention to create hatred towards a particular religion, the judge stated, saying: “These statements were made by a person of stature, whose words have a great impact on the masses and, as a result, they, prima facie, have a psychological impact on the target group.”
Stating that the petitioner’s counsel would argue that there was no material to show that the statements made by his client created enmity, hatred or ill will or disturbed public tranquility, the judge cited the importance of the Supreme Court’s decision in the case by Pravasi Bhalai Sangathan.
The high court made it very clear that each hate speech does not have to immediately result in violence or disruption of public order and that it can have various impacts on the group targeted by such statements, he recalled.
The Supreme Court warned that such statements can act as a time bomb, waiting to explode at the appropriate moment creating violence and, in the most extreme cases, even leading to genocide. These observations are more relevant in this era of social media, Justice Venkatesh said.
Noting that the “The time bomb will have the desired effect at that time,” she warned.
The psychological impact of a statement made by a popular leader should not be limited to simply testing it on the basis of immediate physical harm, the judge said, adding that it is the duty of the court to see whether it has caused silent harm. on the psyche of the target group, which, at a later point in time, will have the desired effect in terms of violence or even result in genocide.
Therefore, the “non-physical impact of the statements made” will also come within the ambit of section 153A of the IPC (promotion of enmity between groups), the judge added.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated channel.)