TN Governor files defamation suit against DMK leader over controversial remarks

A criminal defamation case has been filed by the Tamil Nadu Raj Bhavan against the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) office-bearer Sivaji Krishnamurthy for his speech against Governor RN Ravi. In the petition filed at a Sessions Court in Chennai on Thursday, January 19, the Governor’s office alleged that Sivaji’s speech was “false and made deliberately to to defame the Governor’s reputation.”

The petition also called the speech malicious, adding that “there is no truth in the allegations and the allegations are false in nature. The speech directly impeaches the reputation of the honourable Governor of Tamil Nadu.”

In his speech, Sivaji was reacting to the controversy that erupted on January 9 after Governor Ravi skipped portions of his customary address to the Assembly, prepared for him by the state government. Among the portions that the Governor did not read out were references to Dr BR Ambedkar and to Dravidian workers.

Reacting to this, Sivaji — who belongs to the party’s Chennai North unit — said, “If you don’t read out the speech given by the government, then go to Kashmir and we will send terrorists so that they gun you down.”

“If the Governor refuses to utter the name of Ambedkar in his speech in the Assembly, do I not have the right to assault him?” he asked during his speech on January 14, and made a few other derogatory remarks on Governor Ravi. Sivaji also made comments on Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Tamil Nadu president K Annamalai, and responded to allegations of dynastic politics in the DMK using offensive language.

The Raj Bhavan’s petition claims that Krishnamurthy is liable for prosecution under sections 499 (defamation) and 500 (punishment for defamation) of the Indian Penal Code. Earlier, the Raj Bhavan and the state unit of BJP had also approached police with separate complaints, seeking action against the DMK functionary for his “abusive and intimidatory” speech against Governor Ravi.

In its complaint to Chennai Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal, the Raj Bhavan said a video of Sivaji using “most abusive, defamatory and derogatory language and intimidation” against Governor Ravi has been uploaded on various social media platforms, and went viral.

In the wake of the controversy, Sivaji was suspended by the DMK from all his posts and the primary party membership. A press release by DMK general secretary and senior minister Duraimurugan said that Sivaji was suspended for “violating party discipline and bringing disrepute to the party”. The ruling party, however, did not make any reference to his abusive comments against the Governor.

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