The High Court of Karnataka on Monday granted an interim stay on the FIR registered against Kannada actor-director and politician Upendra under the SC/ST Act, for the alleged remarks made during a Facebook live session.
Upendra had approached the Court seeking to quash the case registered against him alleging offences under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
Though the case was not listed for hearing, his advocate moved the court and Justice Hemanth Chandanagoudar who heard the plea, granted the interim stay.
“A false, frivolous and publicity oriented complaint has been lodged against the petitioner for using a Kannada proverb. The petitioner has not insulted Dalits or persons belonging to SC and STs,” his petition filed in the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR at the Chennamana Achchukattu police station said.
As an interim relief, a stay on the proceedings and investigation in the case was sought.
Madhusudan K N, the Assistant Director at the Social Welfare Department, had filed the complaint stating that the department has received complaints from the public about a live web session of the actor on August 12 where he allegedly made the offensive statement. The FIR was lodged under Section 3(1)(r)(s) of the Act.
The actor had allegedly made those comments, during a live online talk to commemorate the sixth anniversary of his political life. Upendra is the founder of the ‘Uttama Prajaakeeya Party’.
The petition detailing the incident which resulted in the complaint said, “In his talk on Facebook Live, the petitioner has been receiving encomiums and appreciation and also criticism. In this connection, on 12.08.2023 in his talk, he informed the people that criticisms are part of life and used a proverb in Kannada “Oorendare Holageri Iruthe (there will be a Dalit hamlet in every village)”. It had nothing to do with Dalits or any intention to insult people belonging to Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes,” his petition said.
Defending his statement, the petition further stated that “It is a proverb, which is generally used to state that criticism is bound to be generally there and one need not be unduly perturbed. It has nothing to do with insult to the Dalit or people belonging to SC/ST. Very significantly, there is a place called Holageri in Shivamogga District. There are many people with the surname Holageri.”
The petition also said that after some people commented and criticised him for using the proverb, he deleted the episode on Facebook and apologised “to the people if he has inadvertently hurt anyone and made it abundantly clear that he has no intention of insulting any person or community.”