The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court quashed a sedition case filed against YouTuber M Maridhas for his controversial social media posts on the recent helicopter crash in Coonoor, stating that social media personalities commenting on public affairs have the same right to freedom of speech and expression as journalists and the media.
The judge ruled that the FIR was illegally filed and that no charges were filed against Maridhas. He granted the petition and threw out the FIR.
Maridhas’ lawyer argued that the YouTuber had only expressed his opinion and was arrested for being a government critic. Maridhas’ comparison of TN to Kashmir, on the other hand, was unwarranted, according to Additional Advocate General Veera Kathiravan.
Maridhas’ post, according to Justice Swaminathan, cannot be classified as seditious.
The petitioner’s tweet was never meant to be a means of subverting the government.” He had only brought the State government’s attention to some nefarious tendencies brewing in the state. “He’s simply expressed his anxiety,” the judge said.
Maridhas was arrested on December 9 by the Madurai Cyber Crime Police under the Indian Penal Code’s Sections 124A (Sedition), 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups), and 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), among others, for the aforementioned social media posts, in which he questioned whether Tamil Nadu, under DMK rule, is becoming another Kashmir.
Maridhas has made a deliberate effort to incite his followers to react violently so that a duly elected government can be toppled, Kathiravan claimed, by alleging that the State government is supporting separatists. Maridhas further argued that since he had mentioned separatists, he would have to show the materials he has in his possession to make such a statement. The judge, in dismissing the FIR, cited Turkish novelist and Nobel Prize winner Orhan Pamuk’s distinction between a naive and sentimental novelist.
The tweet received so much attention because of the complaint made by V Balakrishnan (DMK functionary). The petitioner in this case appears to have sent a naive tweet. He probably realised what he was doing and took it down. When asked why the court took up the petition so soon, the judge explained that it is constitutionally obligated to carry out the Apex Court’s orders when the petitioner’s personal liberty has been taken away.