Relief for Shashi Tharoor in national anthem disrespect case

Shashi Tharoor

The Kerala High court today declined to interfere with the proceedings in a lower court against Minister of State for HRD Shashi Tharoor in a case relating to alleged disrespect to the national anthem.

Justice S S Sateeschandran passed the order while dismissing Tharoor's petition challenging the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court's order declining his plea to issue summons to Federal Bank manager to produce a CD recorded by the bank of the function on December 16, 2008.

"It cannot be canvassed by the accused at a pre-trial stage to seek the aid of the court to summon a document to prove his innocence," the judge said.

A case was registered against Tharoor on the basis of a private complaint by human rights activist Joy Kaitharath of Ernakulam in the ACJM court that he had committed offences under section 3 of Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1977, enacted to prohibit desecration or insult to the country's national anthem.

In the complaint it was alleged that on December 16, 2008, Tharoor had interrupted the national anthem after a public lecture of the Federal Bank at Kochi.

The complainant said Tharoor took a microphone and directed the audience that the national anthem is to be sung in the American way keeping the right hand on the left chest instead of the attention posture.

Tharoor had approached the magistrate court after the case was taken cognisance of by the magistrate in 2009.

Later, Tharoor sought the production of the CD recorded by the bank which was declined by the magistrate.

Challenging this, he approached the High Court and the proceedings in the lower court were stayed. Consequent to the dismissal of the petition, the magistrate can proceed with further proceedings. Reacting to the court order, Tharoor dubbed the case as a "malicious, politically motivated, vexatious and frivolous litigation" and said he had not shown any disrespect to the national anthem and would pursue the case to clear his name.

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