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If everyone making allegations on YouTube is arrested, how many will be jailed: Supreme Court restores YouTuber’s bail over remarks against Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin

Justice Oka asked, "If before elections, we start putting behind bars everyone who makes allegations on YouTube, imagine how many will be jailed?”

On Monday (8th April), the Supreme Court restored the bail granted to YouTuber A. Duraimurugan Sattai for allegedly making derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin in 2021. The bench of Justices Abhay S Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan set aside the Madras High Court order that cancelled Sattai’s bail. Restoring his bail, the bench stated that he did not misuse his liberty by protesting and expressing his views.

Posing a question to the Tamil Nadu government’s counsel, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, Justice Oka asked, “If before elections, we start putting behind bars everyone who makes allegations on YouTube, imagine how many will be jailed?”

The court rejected Advocate Rohatgi’s argument that the court should impose a condition on the YouTuber that he does not make any scandalous remarks while on bail. 

Retorting to the argument, Justice Oka asked Rohatgi, “And who decides what is scandalous? Look at the bigger picture.”

YouTuber Sattai challenged the Madras High Court’s order, which cancelled his bail on the grounds that within a few days of giving an undertaking before the court (based on which he was granted a bail by the High Court), Sattai made derogatory remarks against the Tamil Nadu CM.

A notice was issued on his plea in July 2022, while the Supreme Court continued his bail in August 2021. Since then, Sattai has been on bail for more than 2.5 years. 

The Tamil Nadu government’s counsel, Rohatgi apprised the court about two FIRs registered against the YouTuber in December 2022 and March 2023. 

Regarding the FIRs, the Court noted that the allegations in the same pertained to – 

(i) Participation in a protest condemning the demolition of Babri Masjid 

(ii) Sattai and others speaking furiously and demanding the release of certain persons in custody.

The bench observed, “We don’t think that by protesting and by expressing his views, it can be said that the appellant has misused the liberty granted to him (by this Court). Even otherwise we are of the view that the grounds mentioned in the impugned order cannot constitute grounds for cancellation of bail.”

The prosecution alleged that Murugan and other members of the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) party assembled in defiance of COVID-19 regulations after their protest request was denied. During this assembly, Murugan allegedly made derogatory remarks with the intent to disrupt public peace and tranquility.

The complainant, a member of the DMK party, saw a speech by the petitioner and another individual on the YouTube channel “Ravana,” wherein they allegedly mocked CM Stalin.

Based on his complaint, the police registered a case and arrested Murugan in October 2021. Later, in November 2021, the Madras High Court granted him bail. However, a division bench of the High Court cancelled his bail for allegedly making derogatory remarks despite giving an undertaking in the court. 

Subsequently, in 2022, the Supreme Court granted him interim bail and he has been out on bail since then.

The Supreme Court order states, “Leave granted. By impugned order, the benefit of bail granted to the appellant was cancelled. This Court continued interim bail earlier; he continues to be on bail for 2.5 years…All the same, we do not find grounds to cancel bail. We thus quash the High Court order cancelling bail and restore the earlier order granting bail. Needless to say, cancellation of bail can be applied for if deemed fit.” 

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staffhttps://www.opindia.com
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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