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Sunday, Sep 15, 2019

Madras High Court suspends Vaiko’s one-year jail term in sedition case

Justice PD Audikesavlu heard a petition filed by Vaiko challenging the order of the special court that deals with cases involving MPs and MLAs.

india Updated: Jul 18, 2019 21:50 IST

Hindustan Times, Chennai
Madras high court suspended a trial court’s order sentencing Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko to one-year in prison in a 2009 sedition case.
Madras high court suspended a trial court’s order sentencing Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko to one-year in prison in a 2009 sedition case. (HTfile)
         

The Madras high court on Thursday suspended a trial court’s order sentencing Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) general secretary Vaiko to one-year in prison in a 2009 sedition case.

The Tamil Nadu police had in 2009 filed the case against Vaiko under Indian Penal Code section 124 for speaking in support of the proscribed Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), then engaged in a war with the Sri Lankan armed forces.

Justice PD Audikesavlu heard a petition filed by Vaiko challenging the order of the special court that deals with cases involving MPs and MLAs.

Vaiko’s lawyer G Devadoss argued that there was no audio or video evidence produced by the prosecution to prove the charge of sedition under IPC section 124 A and even the witnesses produced were only police personnel and no public witnesses were produced.

After hearing the arguments of public prosecutor A Natarajan and Devadoss, Justice Audikesavlu suspended the one-year prison term of Vaiko. When the public prosecutor argued that Vaiko’s speeches in the past were against the sovereignty of the nation, the judge told Devadoss to advise his client to be careful while speaking in public.

Vaiko, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha on July 11, contended that the special court’s order convicting him was perverse. “Even as the charges were not proved and no evidence was submitted, the court has awarded the jail-term,” he claimed.

Vaiko alleged that the entire prosecution was vitiated and no conviction could be based on the charge and sought to set aside the judgment of the lower court.

The trial court had held him guilty of sedition since his “hatred” speech came under the scope of creating disaffection against the government, which is covered in Section 124 A.

Following his conviction, there was speculation that Vaiko’s nomination for Rajya Sabha polls might be rejected.

Vaiko’s counsel, quoting provisions, including the Representation of the People Act, had said there was no legal impediment to his client contesting the Rajya Sabha polls.

Following a plea, the sentence was subsequently stayed for a month for enabling him file an appeal against the order. On July 11, Vaiko and six others were elected unopposed in the biennial elections to Rajya Sabha from Tamil Nadu.

First Published: Jul 18, 2019 21:49 IST