After facing two FIRs filed on complaints by members of the Brahmin community in Karnataka for his critical comments on ‘Brahminism’, actor Chetan Kumar has sued Labour Minister Arbail Shivaram Hebbar for civil defamation.
The actor has filed a suit against the minister before a city civil court in Bengaluru seeking Rs 1 as compensation and a public apology. In a statement released later, the actor accused minister Hebbar of using “demeaning and offensive language” against him.
“Although I generally ignore such words coming from the public, Mr Hebbar is in a position of immense power, is misusing his role as a public servant and must be held accountable,” Chetan explained.
Earlier this month, on June 11, Hebbar had condemned Chetan’s statements that quoted Dr B R Ambedkar and Periyar and made a call through tweets to “uproot Brahminism,” alleging that it has “killed the ideas” of Basava and Buddha.
Reacting to the tweets made by the actor on May 27, June 1, and June 6, Hebbar termed those as “against the Constitution” and made as a “publicity stunt”. He also added that he would appeal to the chief minister to take suitable action.
The Karnataka Brahmin Development Board filed a complaint with the Bengaluru City Police Commissioner after which an FIR was registered against Chetan at Ulsoor Gate police station. Later, the Basavangudi police registered another FIR based on a complaint filed by Pawan Kumar Sharma, president of the Vipra Yuva Vedike, a community organisation.
Both FIRs mentioned charges as per 153 B (imputations, assertions prejudicial to national integration) and 295 A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) of the Indian Penal Code.
Chetan, who is also known for his activism and participation in socio-political seminars and campaigns, noted, “through tweets from his official account, Mr Hebbar was also directly influencing the powers that be to put him (Chetan) in jail for his “democratic rights of free speech and for quoting ideas/terms our Bahujan icons Buddha, Basava/Sharanas, Dr. Ambedkar, Periyar, and so many others spent their lives championing”.