Apex court denies relief to Raj Thackeray

July 28th, 2008 - 7:57 pm ICT by IANS  

A file-photo of Raj Thackeray

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) The Supreme Court Monday refused to grant any relief to Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) chief Raj Thackeray, facing prosecution in Jharkhand for making rabble-rousing speeches against north Indians staying in the western state of Maharashtra. Thackeray had moved the apex court last week, challenging a Jharkhand High Court ruling upholding a Jamshedpur judicial magistrate’s order to prosecute him under section 504 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) for making defamatory speeches against north Indians staying in Maharashtra and its capital Mumbai.

A bench of Justice Arijit Pasayat and Justice Mukundkum Sharma dismissed Thackeray’s petition saying it would not interfere with the high court ruling which has endorsed his prosecution.

The apex court also refused to absolve him from the onus of attending court hearings in Jamshedpur, saying that if he wants to be exempted from attending courts, he should seek the relief from the Jharkhand High Court.

The judicial magistrate had also ordered his prosecution under sections 153-A and 153-B of the IPC that pertains to triggering disharmony between two communities through inflammatory or rabble-rousing speeches or write-ups.

The Jharkhand High Court, however, had suspended the part of Jamshedpur magistrate’s order for Thackeray’s prosecution under section 153-A and 153-B saying that he would be prosecuted for triggering social disharmony only if the Jharkhand government grants the mandatory sanction for his prosecution under these two charges.

In his petition to the apex court, Thackeray had contended that the complaint filed by the advocate at Jamshedpur did not even have a copy of his alleged inflammatory and defamatory speech against north Indians, still the magistrate proceeded against him.

“The proceedings have been initiated in Jamshedpur without the magistrate having any territorial jurisdiction to try and entertain the complaint for an alleged inflammatory speech delivered in Mumbai in Maharashtra. The only source of knowledge of the complainant is a TV channel, which also was not named in the complaint,” Thackeray had said in his petition.

He said the complaint was politically motivated to gain cheap publicity and to wreak vengeance on him as the complainant in Jamshedpur was the spokesperson of Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Singhbhum district committee.

Despite all these deficiencies, the high court upheld the trial court order taking cognizance of the crime, Thackeray had said while requesting the apex court to quash all charges against him.

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