Thiruvananthapuram/Kochi: The Kerala High Court on Friday granted bail to senior politician P C George, who was arrested in two hate speech cases registered against him in Thiruvananthapuram and Ernakulam, respectively.
Justice Gopinath P granted bail and imposed stringent conditions upon George, including furnishing a personal bond of Rs 50,000 and two sureties each in both the cases.
"I am of the opinion that the petitioner can be granted relief. I am of the view that since both the offences registered against the petitioner are punishable with a maximum imprisonment up to three years or fine (unless the case where to come within Sub Section (2) of Section 153A), the continued detention of the petitioner may not be necessary," the court said in its bail order.
The high court allowed the bail application saying the politician is not likely to flee from justice.
"The fact that the petitioner is a 72-year-old man stated to be suffering from various illnesses and the fact that he was a member of the Kerala Legislative Assembly for nearly 33 years also compels me to take the view that he is not likely to free from justice. Accordingly, these applications for bail are allowed," the order read.
The court asked George not to interfere with the investigation or try to influence or intimidate any witness in Thiruvananthapuram or Ernakulam.
"Petitioner shall fully co-operate with the investigation including with any scientific procedure that may be required by the prosecution. Petitioner shall not make any speech or statement which would tend to result in commission of offences under Sections 153A or 295A of the Indian Penal Code. The petitioner shall make himself available for interrogation as and when called upon to do so in writing," the order said.
The high court granted the bails considering his health condition and status as former MLA.
The court has also granted anticipatory bail in another hate speech case registered at the Palarivattom Police Station for delivering objectionable speech at a temple festival at Vennala in Ernakulam district on May 8.
In his plea, George said the prosecution took bits and pieces of statements from the speech made by him and it cannot be alleged that the politician has committed an offence either under Section 153A or under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.
George claimed that he was falsely implicated.
The two bails were granted while considering George's two bail pleas - one seeking anticipatory bail in a hate speech case registered at Palarivattom Police Station and the other appealing against the cancellation of his bail in another hate speech case lodged against him in Thiruvananthapuram.
Communal rant at State capital
The second case was charged by the Fort Police Station in Thiruvananthapuram under Indian Penal Code Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion) and 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs).
George had allegedly delivered a communal speech against Muslims while addressing 'Ananthapuri Hindu Maha Sammelanam' in the state capital on April 29.
The 70-year-old former MLA had sparked off a controversy by asking non-Muslims in Kerala to avoid eating at restaurants run by Muslims.
The police had arrested George on May 1 and released him on bail on the same day.
Bail cancellation after another rant
However, a magisterial court in Thiruvananthapuram on May 25 cancelled the bail granted to George saying that the speech given by him at a temple festival at Vennala in Ernakulam district on May 8 violated the bail conditions. On May 10, Palarivattom police had booked him over his objectionable remarks here.
Hours after the court cancelled his initial bail, George was arrested at the Armed Reserve Police camp in Ernakulam on Wednesday evening by a police team which arrived there from Thiruvananthapuram.
The team then ferried him to the Armed Reserve Police camp at Thiruvananthapuram where he reached around 12.30 am on Thursday and early in the morning he was produced before the magisterial court which sent him to 14-day judicial remand. He was later shifted to Thiruvananthapuram district jail.
Son blames CM
George's son and leader of Kerala Janapaksham, Shone George, had questioned the "haste" shown by the police in producing his arrested father before the court early in the morning and alleged the role of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the act.
He had alleged that the police acted hastily to put George behind the bars when his plea seeking bail was pending before the high court and it was due to political pressure.
(With PTI inputs)