The minister had criticised Chethan Kumar for his advocacy against Brahmanism and casteism. The actor has asked the court to direct the minister to issue an unconditional apology.

Arbail Shivaram HebbarSCREENGRAB
news Legal Friday, June 25, 2021 - 17:02

Kannada actor-activist Chethan Kumar has filed a Re 1 defamation suit against state Labour Minister Shivram Hebbar over a tweet. Based on the actor’s suit, a Bengaluru court on Thursday, June 24 issued a notice to the minister to respond on the next date of hearing, which has been set for July 14. Other than Re 1 for damages, the actor has asked the court to direct the minister to issue an unconditional apology. It may be recalled that the minister had criticised Chethan Kumar, also known as Chethan Ahimsa, for his advocacy against Brahminism and casteism on Twitter.

On June 11, TNM had reported on how the minister, like some others, had called for the actor’s arrest for his critical stand. The actor, since the controversy broke out, has however maintained that his words are the same advocated by BR Ambedkar and Periyar. In the said tweet, Minister Hebbar had suggested that Chethan’s activism was motivated by financial gains.

“..... I request honorable Chief Minister Yediyurappa to take strong action, within the framework of law, against such antisocial people who make such statements for the desire of alms (Ganji Kaasu) and to try and get recognition in society,” the minister had tweeted in Kannada. 

“....his (Hebbar’s) comments are not genuine and do not fall within the realm of ‘Fair Comments’. The defendant is making the above said portion of statement with malafide intention to damage the reputation and image of the plaintiff in the society and therefore the defendant is liable to pay damages for the defamatory statement for the harm, loss, injury and damage caused to the plaintiff and his personal and professional reputation by the defendant (Hebbar),” a portion of the complaint stated.

HV Manjunath, advocate for the actor, told TNM, “It is a suit for damages for defamation. The actor is claiming Re 1 for damages for defamation from Mr Hebbar who is a minister of the Karnataka government. The minister made a defamatory statement on Twitter on June 10.”

“The content of the tweet is derogatory and defamatory. It is also published in media outlets. The statement by the minister lowered the character of Chethan Kumar. The actor has filed the suit aggrieved by the tweet,” he added.

The minister’s call for arrest had come at a time when the Brahmin Development Board in the state had also petitioned the City Police Commissioner Kamal Pant over the actor’s tweets. Currently, the actor who has been booked in two separate FIRs has been subjected to questioning by the police twice.

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