MDMK chief Vaiko awarded 1-year jail in sedition case

Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (MDMK) founder and General Secretary, Vaiko, speaks during a protest rally against the Tamil Nadu Governor Banwarilal Purohit over the release of seven convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, in Chennai, Monday, Dec. 03, 2018. (PTI Photo)

MDMK chief Vaiko was on Friday awarded one-year imprisonment in a decade-old sedition case filed against him for his 2009 speech warning that India will not remain a unified country if the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka was not stopped.
 
The special court, handling cases against MPs and MLAs here, also imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 on Vaiko. The court has also suspended the sentence for a month under CrPC 389 that allows suspension of sentence pending an appeal by a convicted person.
 
The verdict came a day before Vaiko was to file nomination to contest the July 18 biennial polls to Rajya Sabha. However, experts said the sentencing will have no bearing on Vaiko getting elected to the Rajya Sabha since the conviction does not come under the ambit of disqualification.
 
“Vaiko won’t be disqualified to contest from the RS Polls in view of his conviction for one year under Section 124A IPC. This conviction does not come under the ambit of disqualifications mentioned in Section 8 of the Representation of the People Act 1951,” DMK lawyer and spokesperson A Saravanan said.
 
It is ironical that the DMK, whose government filed the case in 2009 against Vaiko, will now send the MDMK chief to Rajya Sabha after a gap of 23 years. The firebrand leader began his parliamentary career in Rajya Sabha by representing the DMK in the Upper House for 18 years from 1978.
 
After the verdict, Vaiko said he feels proud to have been convicted in a case relating to the LTTE. “It is a matter of pride that I have been convicted in a case relating to the LTTE. I would have accepted it with the same emotions even if I had been convicted for life in this case,” Vaiko told reporters outside the court.
 
The verdict is in connection with the case filed by the Tamil Nadu police under Sections 124-A (sedition) and 153-A (promoting enmity between different groups) against Vaiko for his speech. In his speech, Vaiko had warned that India will not remain a unified country if the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Sri Lanka was not stopped.
 
In the verdict, the sessions judge said the position of the accused in the society and his speech would tend to create a major impact on the mind of public and the consequential effect which the accused would surely be aware to be produced in the mind of the people.
 
“The book was released, and the hatred message was delivered on 13.07.2009 just two months (19.05.2009) after the death of LTTE leader Prabhakaran. Judging by that standard, at that time there was danger to the security of the state and Centre and the mood of the people of the state were in a boiling situation,” he wrote.
 
The MDMK chief is a vocal supporter of the outlawed LTTE and had collected funds for the proscribed organisation in its fight against the Sri Lankan government. He was also jailed for 18 months under the Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) in 2002 by the AIADMK government led by J Jayalalithaa for his comments on LTTE.

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