A special court in Hyderabad on Wednesday, 13 April, found All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) legislator Akbaruddin Owaisi not guilty in hate speech cases registered against him in 2012, including one over his now infamous comment about "removing the police for 15 minutes off the streets."
The court was hearing a plea that clubbed multiple cases registered against Akbaruddin, the younger brother of Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi, for alleged hate speeches delivered by him in Nizamabad on 8 December 2012 and at Nirmal town on 22 December 2012. He was also arrested and subsequently released on bail at the time.
The Case Against Akbaruddin Owaisi
On 22 December 2012, Akbaruddin Owaisi had addressed a massive rally in (then Andhra Pradesh's) Nirmal town, where he had made a comment about "removing the police for 15 minutes off the streets," suggesting that violence would erupt between Hindus and Muslims.
Akbaruddin was arrested in January 2013 on charges of hate speech, and granted conditional bail after spending over a month in prison.
The Crime Investigation Department (CID) investigated the Nizamabad case and filed the charge sheet in 2016 while the district police, which probed the Nirmal case, also submitted the charge sheet in the same year. A total of 41 witnesses were examined in the Nizamabad case while 33 people were examined in the Nirmal case.
The special sessions court for trial of MPs/MLAs, which had earlier posted the matter for judgment on 12 April after completion of arguments by defence and prosecution, deferred the verdict to Wednesday. Akbaruddin Owaisi appeared before the court on Tuesday as well.
As per his affidavit filed with the Election Commission of India ahead of the Telangana Legislative Assembly polls in 2018, Akbaruddin Owaisi said that he had 14 criminal cases registered against him.
This included charges under sections 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc, and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (Statements conducing to public mischief), 506 (Criminal intimidation), 124A (Sedition) and 153B (Imputations, assertions prejudicial to national-integration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) among others.
(Published in arrangement with The News Minute.)