SC issues notice on plea by TN Muslim outfit leader accused of threatening Karnataka HC judges over Hijab verdict

The Supreme Court Wednesday issued a notice on a plea by Tamil Nadu Thowheed Jamath (TNTJ) leader Covai R Rahmatullah arrested for allegedly issuing death threats to the Karnataka High Court judges, who delivered the order upholding the ban on wearing hijab in educational institutions in that state, seeking quashing of the FIR against him in Karnataka or its transfer.

A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Bela M Trivedi issued notice on the plea to the state governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

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Rahmatullah contended that a First Information Report over the same set of facts was already registered against him in Madurai before the one in Karnataka and therefore the second FIR is not maintainable as parallel investigations on the same case cannot be allowed. He also said in the plea that in the event the Karnataka FIR is not quashed, it should be transferred to Madurai where he was booked first.

Tamil Nadu police had arrested Rahmatullah and S Jamal Mohammed Usmani, leaders of the TNTJ—a fringe group set up in 2014—in March this year after videos of their speeches from at least two protest gatherings showed them reminding the Karnataka HC judges about the death of Dhanbad additional sessions judge Uttam Anand. Anand was knocked down by an auto-rickshaw while he was on a morning walk in July 2021.

In a video from a protest at Goripalayam in Madurai on March 17, two days after the Karnataka High Court verdict, TMTJ leader Rahmatullah was heard saying, “Have you forgotten the incident of last August in Jharkhand, where a judge on a morning walk was murdered for giving an anti-people judgment? Two people surrendered in the case after two days. Do you remember? Do not even think that Karnataka Muslims have accepted your judgment. If untoward things happen, let me clarify that the judges alone will be responsible.”

A similar video, from a protest organised in Thanjavur by the same group, had people shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and warning that nobody should test their patience.

With the Madurai police filing a case under charges of promoting enmity and intent to incite, among others, Rahmatullah was arrested in Tirunelveli and Usmani was taken into custody from Thanjavur.

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