The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Friday refused anticipatory bail to nine accused in two separate FIRs registered for speeches made in two public meetings convened on 17th and 18th March 2022 by Tamilnadu Thowhith Jamath in Madurai Town and Thiruvadanai.

The Court held that the incident is "an open and dangerous attack on the strongest pillar of the Constitution, the Judiciary".

"After hearing the speech, I was speechless for some minutes. Even during the days of T.B. Macaulay or at the time of framing of Indian Constitution or subsequently, nobody could have thought of such incidents would occur attacking judiciary in such a way", Justice K. Murali Shankar observed after listening to the speech available on social media.

Advocate G.Prabhu Rajadurai appeared for the caused, while, Additional Advocate General Veerakathiravan appeared for the state.

The Court noted that the speakers had given an "open threat of murder" to the Chief Justice of Karnataka High Court and the other two Judges who passed the judgment in the cases filed challenging the restriction imposed on wearing hijab in Karnataka state-run schools.

The Court noted that in the speech, a reference was made to the incident in which the Additional District Judge of Dhanbad District was killed while he was walking and according to them, an auto rickshaw had intentionally ran over and killed the said Judge.

"They have not only threatened the Judges of the High Court who gave the verdict, but also the Judges of the Hon'ble Supreme Court who are going to hear the appeals and pronounce the judgment. The speaker went to the extent of threatening the judges of Supreme Court that in case, if the judgment is not in their favour, they would face major accidents somewhere and if any accident, murder or any other untoward incident happens to them, they are responsible for the same", the Court noted.

The Court rejected the argument of the accused that their arrest is not necessary since the offences attract punishment upto 7 years.

The Court noted that the accused have attempted to turn a particular community against the judiciary. " can easily be inferred that they have been attempting to turn a particular community or a particular section of the community against the judiciary", the Court held.

The Court observed that no person can be permitted to overstep the limits of fair, bonafide and reasonable criticism of a judgment.

The Court questioned the Additional Advocate General about the reason for the delay in registering the complaints. The Additional Advocate General replied that the police authorities have to transcript the speeches and have to forward the same to Chennai and only after getting permission, can the case be registered. However, the Court said, "Neither the Code of Criminal Procedure nor any other Law mandates the police officials to get permission from their headquarters for registering the cases even in cases involving cognizable offences".

The Court said that since permission had been refused to hold the public meeting and since police officers were present at the venue when the speeches were made, "this Court is at loss to understand as to why the police authorities have not taken any steps to stop the meeting even at the commencement".

The Court said that the speeches were a threat to the independence of the judiciary. "It is fundamental that the judiciary has to function independently without any fear. If anyone of the Judges gets fear or apprehension by the threatenings, then the judicial independence would vanish eroding the very edifice on which the institution of justice stands and that the very foundation of the democracy of the Country would crumple", the Court held.

The Additional Advocate General submitted that considering the nature and the way in which speeches were made, "whether there is any larger conspiracy and who were behind such dangerous speeches are to be investigated".

The Court also notes in the judgment that Advocate B.Ramaswamy, claiming to be a Counsel practising in Supreme Court attempted to intervene in the cases and "and thereby attempt to give religious colour to the present cases", stating that he had preferred a complaint before the jurisdictional police. The Court refused permission to him to intervene.

The first FIR in the cases was registered for offences under Sections 153(A), 505(1)(b), 505(1) (c), 505(2), 506(1) and 109 of the IPC and the second FIR for offences under Sections 143, 153 A(1)(a), 504, 505(1)(b), 5051(c) of the IPC.

The Court held that since "such open and dangerous threatenings were made against the higher judiciary and that the investigation is at the initial stage" it is not inclined to grant anticipatory bail to the accused.

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