PIL in Madras HC seeks special bench to fast-track cases against journalists and YouTubers

Activist S Muralidharan alleged that the state government has been gagging journalists, particularly YouTubers, who act as whistleblowers and expose scam committed by those in power.
Madras High Court
Madras High Court(File photo| EPS)

CHENNAI: A public interest litigation petition was filed in the Madras High Court seeking constitution of a special bench to fast-track cases against public-spirited individuals, journalists and YouTubers, alleging that the state was on a witch hunt against such persons exposing its scams.

The petition, filed by activist S Muralidharan, alleged that the state government has been gagging journalists, particularly YouTubers, who act as whistleblowers and expose scam committed by those in power. Citing cases registered against certain YouTubers, including Savukku Shankar, he said social media channels add strength to the fourth pillar of democracy even though their content and lingo could be toxic at times.

Government pleader A Edwin Prabhakar said that whenever action may be necessary to protect law and order, the state will take such action. Refuting allegations made in the petition, he noted that one or two cases are pending in the high court and the remaining are in lower courts.

Finding the petition bereft of necessary information as to the number of cases pending in the court, the first bench of acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq directed the petitioner to furnish the details, and also asked the state to file details on pending cases. The bench noted that it cannot order for the constitution of a special bench but can issue directions to expedite disposal of cases involving journalists.

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