The Supreme Court has dismissed a Tamil Nadu government petition against a high court order that scrapped police custody of folk singer Shiva Raj aka Comrade Kovan, facing sedition charges for allegedly criticising chief minister Jayalalithaa, agencies reported on Monday.
The decision came after weeks of intense criticism of the state government’s move by activists and opposition parties in Tamil Nadu, who called the arrest of the anti-alcohol campaigner a murder of democracy and another instance of rising intolerance in the country.
The little-known 54-year-old lead singer of Peoples Art and Literary Association (PALA) was arrested in Trichy in October for allegedly uploading defamatory content on social media against Jayalalithaa and making insulting remarks about her at a village function.
But the Madras high court earlier this month stayed a local court order remanding Kovan to police custody for two days, saying it was ‘erroneous’.
The little-known theatre personality and singer appears on stage in a veshti and a deep-red bandana playing a thavil, the traditional Tamil drum, and officials said the lyrics of his song, Moodu Tasmacai Moodu (shut down the TASMAC), were highly seditious and slanderous. The alleged defamatory videos were uploaded in some Tamil websites and these went viral in messaging mediums such as WhatsApp.