The Madras High Court on Thursday, December 23, quashed another FIR against YouTuber Maridhas, which was registered against him by the Mettupalayam police in 2020 for his video linking the Tablighi Jamaat meeting at New Delhi for the spread of COVID-19. The FIR was registered based on a complaint filed by Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam leader Mohammed Khader Meeran on April 4, 2020.
Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madras High Court observed that a careful reading of the written text of the video indicates that the petitioner was ‘scared’ by the congregation of Tablighi Jamaat. The judge also said that the incident came under bitter and sharp criticism in the entire media during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. He observed that hence, a slightly exaggerated comment ‘can be expected.’
The High Court also said that in the video, the accused had nowhere questioned the religious belief of the Muslim community and had only spoken about the irresponsible behaviour of the attendees of the congregation.
Justice Swaminathan, while reading out the order, observed that the intention of the petitioner was that he called upon the attendees who took part in the meeting to go to hospital and have a medical checkup. The judge also said that the government had itself started carrying out contact tracing and wanted to identify the members who took part in the congregation.
Maridhas was booked under Sections 292(A) (publishing grossly indecent or scurrilous matter intended for blackmail), 295(A) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), and 505A (statement creating or promoting enmity or ill will between classes) of the Indian Penal Code and Section 67 (publishing or transmitting obscene material in the electronic form) of the IT Act.
Justice Swaminathan, while quashing the FIR against the YouTuber, said that a sharp criticism against an organization would not attract the ingredients of offences mentioned in the FIR and that the registration of the FIR by the Mettupalayam police was itself illegal and quashed it.
Maridhas was earlier arrested by the Police on his tweet of December 9 stating, "Is Tamil Nadu turning into Kashmir under DMK rule,” shortly after the IAF chopper crash of December 8 at Coonoor killing General Bipin Rawat, his wife, and other armed personnel. The case was quashed by the Madras High Court on December 14.