Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Wednesday declined Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor's plea to quash a case against him for allegedly insulting the national anthem and directed him to approach the trial court for discharge. Disposing of the petition, Justice VK Mohanan directed Tharoor to approach the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate court for discharge and granted him time till Febuary 16 to move the trial court.
The High Court had on January 4 stayed for two weeks framing of charges in the case pending in the lower court. Human rights activist Joy Kaitharath had filed a complaint in the ACJM court, charging Tharoor with committing offences under Sec 3 of Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act, 1977, that prohibits descretation or insult to the National Anthem.
He claimed Tharoor had interrupted the national anthem at a function of Federal Bank at Kochi on Dec 16 2008 and asked the audience to sing it by placing the right hand on the left chest like Americans do, instead of standing to attention. In his order, Justice Mohanan also asked the ACJM to consider the petition on merit exclusively on the basis of available material and evidence of the complainant and to defer framing of charges till that time.
The court directed ACJM to post the case on February 15 and then proceed to the next stage, based on outcome of the proceedings. Tharoor's counsel had submitted he never attempted to prevent singing of the national anthem and charges of violating the Prevention of Insult to National Honour Act would not stay.
Tharoor, in his petition in the High Court, had alleged that the case was solely motivated by 'political consideration' and further continuance of proceedings would only lead to 'intense harassment' to him.