The Additional District Sessions Court has acquitted Naam Tamilar Katchi leader S. Seeman and film director I. Ameer Sulthan in a sedition case slapped against them for allegedly speaking against India’s sovereignty and in support of the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam while addressing a public meeting in Rameswaram in October 2008.
Bringing the curtains down on the nine-year-old case on Tuesday, Additional sessions judge D Lingeswaran, citing High court and Supreme court orders, said that the accused could not be held guilty under Sections 13(1) (b), 13 (2) (advocates, abets and incites commission of unlawful activity) of the Unlawful Activities (prevention) Act, 1967 and Section 124 A of Indian Penal Code (sedition).
The duo, while addressing the public meeting organised by the Tamil film industry in support of the Sri Lankan Tamils had only expressed their anguish over the killing of Tamils in Sri Lanka and wanted India to find a political solution to the ethnic crisis.
Ameer, who was cited as the first accused in the case had only criticised the then Congress-led government at the Centre for its ‘tacit support’ to Sri Lanka in its fight against the Tamils and never incited violence. He only wanted India to find a political solution to the crisis.
Similarly, Seeman, supported LTTE leader Velupillai Prabakaran and compared him with revolutionary leaders such as Fidel Castro, Che Guevara, Mao Zedong and Yasar Arafat, who fought for the liberation of their people. But speaking in support of a banned organisation would not amount to committing crime, the judge said. A perusal of the speeches of the two accused showed that he never called for separate Tamil Nadu nor incited violence against the Centre, the judge said.
Citing the Madras High Court order (S James Peter Vs The secretary to Government), the judge said being a member of a banned organisation or speaking in support of the organisation would not be a crime. The Supreme Court was also clear in the Kedarnath Singh Vs State of Bihar case that ‘a very strong speech directed to a very strong criticism of measures of government or acts of public officials would be outside the scope of sedition under section 124A of IPC”, the judge said.
When Seeman and Ameer thanked the judge for his judgement, the judge advised them to exercise restraint while fighting to protect the interests of the Tamils and ensure that their acts never posed a threat to the integrity and sovereignty of the country. The judge noted that they were acquitted the same day they were arrested nine years ago in the case.
M Somasundaram and R Domnic Ravi appeared for the accused and C K Venkatesan for the prosecution, the Q Branch police, which registered the case and filed the charge sheet in February 2010. The prosecution cited 28 witnesses, of which, seven turned hostile. (Hindu)