The High Court of Karnataka on Tuesday stayed the investigation and further proceedings based on the First Information Report (FIR) registered against BJP MLA and former minister C.N. Ashwath Narayan for allegedly making a provocative statement in February 2023 against Siddaramaiah, who was then the Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly.
Justice M. Nagaprasanna passed the interim order on a petition filed by Dr. Narayan questioning the legality of the registration of the FIR on May 24, 2023, by Mysuru city police.
The FIR was registered on a complaint filed by the Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee spokesperson M. Lakshmana.
It was alleged in the complainant that Dr. Narayan, in his address to BJP workers at Sathanur in Mandya district on February 15, gave a call to the party workers to “finish off Siddaramaiah in the same manner in which Tipu Sultan was finished off by warriors, Urigowda and Nanjegowda of Mandya”.
Denying the allegations, the petition said, “Dr. Narayan, during his speech, had referred to the warriors Urigowda-Nanjegowda and Tipu Sultan as a metaphor for a political fight and an electoral victory.” It was made “only with the intention of defeating another political rival in the elections” and “not meant in any literal sense”.
Stating that Dr. Narayan had already clarified these aspects both in media and in the Houses of the Legislature, it has been pointed out in the petition that the complaint given by the Congress party leader in February was already treated as a non-cognisable report. With Congress assuming power in the State, a fresh complaint was given, and an FIR was registered due to political pressure, it has been alleged in the petition.
There is no material or ingredient for registering the FIR under Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 153 (wantonly giving provocation, with intent to cause riot), it has been contended in the petition.
“The soul of Section 153 is that any statement made by any person should be so provocative that it should result in rioting or even if it does not result, it should be capable of resulting in rioting; and no such incident is narrated even though the alleged statement was made three months ago. Therefore, the dominant ingredient of section 153 is prima facie not met,” the court pointed out.
“In the light of the offence not meeting the prima facie ingredient of section 153, permitting further proceedings/ investigation against the petitioner would run foul the apex court judgements,” the High Court said while staying further proceedings for four weeks.