The Madras High Court on Thursday suspended the one-year jail term awarded to Marumalarchi Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam chief Vaiko, PTI reported. A special court had on July 5 sentenced Vaiko to one year in jail in a sedition case from 2009.

The counsel for Vaiko argued that the prosecution produced no audio or video evidence to show that the leader made a seditious speech in 2009. He said that the witnesses produced were only police personnel and none from the public.

Public prosecutor A Natarajan, however, claimed that Vaiko had admitted to making such a speech.

The court refused to restrain the MDMK chief from giving speeches against the sovereignty of the state, as demanded by the prosecution. Instead, the court asked the counsel for Vaiko to tell the leader to be responsible while making public speeches.

Vaiko said in his plea that the speech “must be judged objectively and from standards reasonable to strong minded, firm and courageous men and not those of weak and vacillating minds”. Vaiko submitted that the trial court erroneously based its conclusion based on inadmissible evidence. He said that it is the prosecution’s responsibility to prove his guilt.

The MDMK chief said expressing sympathy to Eelam Tamils cannot be said to be an act of bringing hatred or disaffection towards the government of the country under Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code.

Vaiko had been sentenced for comments he had made during the launch of his book. “India will not remain one country if the war against the LTTE [Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam] in Sri Lanka is not stopped,” he had said during the launch of his book Naan Kuttram Saatugiren. He has been a staunch supporter of the LTTE and other outfits fighting for a separate Tamil country in Sri Lanka.

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam had filed the sedition case against Vaiko. However, the DMK had in July offered Vaiko a Rajya Sabha ticket.