The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday quashed the FIR against YouTuber Maridhas.
The Madurai police had registered an FIR against the YouTuber following a tweet of his which said ‘whether Tamil Nadu was turning into another Kashmir’.
The FIR was registered against Maridhas under Sections 124 (A) (sedition), 153 (promoting enmity between different groups), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), 505(1)(b)(with intent to cause fear or alarm to the public) and 505(2)(statements creating or promoting enmity) of the IPC.
Justice G.R. Swaminathan while accepting the plea by Maridhas quashed the FIR and observed, “In the age of social media, a YouTuber or any person commenting on questions of public importance would also be entitled to the very same right which accord to media and journalists under Article 19(1)(a)- Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression of the constitution.”
The judge also said that the controversial YouTuber had taken down the tweet within a few hours after posting it. The Court observed, “He would have withdrawn the tweet within hours of it being published after having realised that his reaction was unnecessary.”
Quoting profusely from celebrated Turkish novelist Orhan Pamuk, the judge said that Pamukh had differentiated between naive writing and sentimental writing. He said that the naive write without thinking about the consequences and also not paying attention to what others say.
Discussing each of the charges in the FIR against Maridhas including sedition, the judge said, “The FIR is illegal and is immediately quashed as no charges have been made out against him.”
Tamil Nadu Additional Advocate General, Veera Kathiravan appearing for the prosecution argued that comparing Tamil Nadu with Kashmir and that the state government was supporting separatists, the YouTuber was consciously instigating his supporters to react violently so that a duly elected state government is toppled.”
The AAG also argued for the dismissal of the petition of Maridas to quash the FIR, but the Madras High Court accepted the petition and quashed the FIR against the YouTuber.