In a setback to MDMK Chief Vaiko, a special court has convicted the 75-year-old leader in a sedition case dating back to 2009. The special court judge J Shanthi sentenced Vaiko to one year in jail and Rs 10,000 fine.
According to MDMK leader Nanmaran, Vaiko has been granted suspension of sentence for one month under CrPC 389, that allows suspension of sentence pending an appeal by a convicted person. Vaiko was expected to file his nomination for the Rajya Sabha election on Saturday. However, some experts say that since sedition is not listed as one of the offences under the Representation of People's Act, 1951 for which disqualification is attracted regardless of the prison term, he may be allowed to contest. As per the Representation of People's Act 1951, someone who is convicted of an offence and is sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more, they are disqualified from contesting elections, for six years after their release.
The case against Vaiko dates back to 2009, for his speech at a book launch event. In the event which was conducted in Raja Annamalai mandram in Chennai in 2009, he had spoken on the topic ‘Eezhathil nadappathenna’ (what is happening in Eelam). In his speech, he had warned that if India wants to remain a single, unified country, the war against LTTE in Sri Lanka must be stopped.
A case was registered at the Thousand Lights police station against Vaiko under sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 (A) (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language) of the IPC. A chargesheet was filed in the case in 2009, however, Vaiko was not arrested until April 2017, where he was sent to Puzhal jail. He came out on bail after over a month in jail.
Vaiko who had served as a Rajya Sabha MP for 18 years between 1978 and 1996, is looking to make a comeback to the Upper House after 23 years. The Rajya Sabha election is set to take place on July 18 in Tamil Nadu. Vaiko, whose party does not have a single MLA in the Tamil Nadu Assembly, will be elected to the Upper House with the support of DMK. The DMK had agreed to nominate Vaiko as part of a pre-poll agreement ahead of the Lok Sabha Elections.