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YouTubers & journos have same rights: Madras High Court

Justice Swaminathan further held that Maridhas’ post cannot be characterised as seditious.

Published: 15th December 2021 05:25 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th December 2021 05:25 AM   |  A+A-

Madras High Court.

Madras High Court.

By Express News Service

MADURAI:  Observing that social media personalities commenting on public affairs are also entitled to the right to freedom of speech and expression enjoyed by journalists and the media, the Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Tuesday quashed a sedition case registered against YouTuber M Maridhas for his controversial social media posts on the recent helicopter crash in Coonoor.

Passing the order on a petition filed by Maridhas, Justice GR Swaminathan observed, “A ‘YouTuber’ or any social media personality regularly commenting on public affairs would also be entitled to the very same rights which are accorded to journalists and the media under Article 19(1)(a) — Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression—of the Constitution.”

Justice Swaminathan further held that Maridhas’ post cannot be characterised as seditious. “The petitioner’s tweet was never intended to subvert the government. He had only drawn the attention of the State government to certain nefarious tendencies brewing in the State. He has merely vented out his anxiety,” the judge said.

The judge concluded that the registration of the FIR was illegal and no charge was made out against Maridhas. He allowed the petition and quashed the FIR.

Maridhas’s counsel had argued that the YouTuber had only voiced his opinion, and was arrested for being a critic of the government. But the Additional Advocate General Veera Kathiravan contended that Maridhas’ comparison of TN to Kashmir was unwarranted.

Maridhas’ a naive tweet, says judge

By alleging that the State government is supporting the separatists, Maridhas has made a conscious effort to instigate his followers to react violently so that a duly elected government can be toppled, Kathiravan contended. Since Maridhas had spoken about the existence of separatists, he would have to show the materials he has in his possession to make such a statement, he further argued.

Quashing the FIR, the judge referred to how Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk differentiates between a naive and sentimental novelist. "The naive write spontaneously almost without thinking, not bothering to consider the intellectual and ethical consequences of their words and paying no attention to what others might say. The sentimental writing is a product of deep reflection," the judge explained. He opined that Maridhas appears to have made a "naive tweet" in the Pamukian sense. "Probably realising it, he took it down within a few hours," he added.

The Cyber Crime police of Madurai had booked Maridhas on December 9 under Sections 124A (Sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups), 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) among others of the IPC, for the aforementioned social media posts, in which he had questioned if Tamil Nadu, under DMK rule, is becoming another Kashmir.



Comments(1)

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  • Deena Dayalan

    "he took it down within a few hours". In one way we appreciate this action. On the other side M Maridhas should have posted an apology for posting a derogative posting if he had real intentions to serve the society. This is where the problem is. His EGO would not allow him to do this. People should stop clicking on his channel. For actions like this People are the best Judges.
    5 months ago reply
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