HC refuses to stay anthem case against Tharoor

The Kerala High Court Monday refused to stay proceedings in a lower court against Shashi Tharoor for allegedly disrespecting the national anthem.

The court then deferred further hearing on the plea of the Minister of State for HRD till Tuesday. In his petition, Tharoor contended that the allegation against him of violating the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, was "solely motivated by political consideration" and continuance of proceedings will only lead to his "intense harassment", so they must be stayed. The complaint and proceedings against him, he added, were "gross abuse" of the process of court since no offence under the law could even be indicated, much less established, and the evidence tendered did not attract Sect 3 of the act.

The court, however, was not inclined to stay the proceedings. The case is scheduled for hearing in the court of Chief Judicial Magistrate Tuesday. The case is based on activist Joy Kaitharath's complaint that Tharoor had "committed offences under Sect 3 of the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, enacted to prohibit desecration or insult to the country's national anthem". Kaitharath alleged that on December 16, 2008, Tharoor interrupted the national anthem at a function of the Federal Bank at Kochi and asked audience to sing with the right hand on the left chest like the Americans.

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