Maridhas was arrested on December 9 for his deleted tweet alleging that Tamil Nadu is “turning into another Kashmir under DMK rule."

Maridhas Answers: Screengrab from Maridhas YouTube channel
news Court Tuesday, December 14, 2021 - 14:30

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court on Tuesday, December 14, quashed the FIR against controversial YouTuber Maridhas, who was arrested for a tweet alleging that Tamil Nadu is “turning into another Kashmir under DMK rule." The tweet, which was later deleted, was posted a day after the death of Chief of Defense staff Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others in a helicopter crash in Coonoor.

Maridhas had claimed in the tweet that the Tamil Nadu government gives freedom “to create a group that can do any level of treason against the country.” He also claimed that “it is possible for any kind of plot to be hatched here.” Maridhas’s tweet came a day after the IAF chopper crashed in Coonoor, killing CDS Bipin Rawat, his wife and 11 others. The tweet was deleted, but not before it was noticed by users and screenshots were circulated on social media. He also alleged in a separate tweet that cadres and sympathisers of DMK made fun of the passing away of General Rawat, adding that DMK was the “first choice for separatist forces.”

Maridhas, who was arrested on Thursday, December 9, had moved the Madurai bench seeking a stay on the trial against him and protection from any further action. The petition came up for hearing before Justice GR Swaminathan on Tuesday. The Tamil Nadu government opposed Maridhas’s petition, with the government’s counsel saying that Maridhas made ‘unnecessary comments’ and questioned the state government’s integrity. 

Maridhas’s counsel submitted to the court that Maridhas often critiques the government and that he has been arrested in order to silence him. The counsel submitted that the case filed against him is baseless and there is no proof against him.

After hearing arguments, the Madurai bench quashed the case against him, holding that the sections filed against him will not be held valid. According to The New Indian Express, Justice Swaminathan said that YouTubers also have the same rights accorded to journalists and media under the Constitution, and they also have the freedom of speech and expression. The judge also noted that Maridhas had 'probably realised his mistake' and had deleted the tweet. The HC said that Maridhas's post could be classified as 'naive writing,' citing author Orhan Pamuk's differentiation between a 'naive and a sentimental novelist.'

Maridhas had been booked under various sections of the Indian Penal Code, including Sections 153 (wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 505(2) (making statements with intent to cause public mischief, or which is likely to cause, fear, or alarm to the public).

YouTuber Maridhas is not new to controversy. Last year, in April, Maridhas was booked by the Tirunelveli police for stoking communal sentiment based on a complaint against his videos about the coronavirus. Maridhas had claimed that “coronavirus is being deliberately spread by terrorists to murder innocents across the world.” 

In July, Maridhas was also in the news for his targeted campaign against journalists at television channel News18 Tamil Nadu, where he accused their journalists of being ‘anti-Hindu’ and alleging that they had direct and indirect connections with political outfits. News18 and their Tamil channel’s then Editor-in-chief Gunasekaran had sued Maridhas for defamation and later the Madras High Court had instructed the YouTuber to stop publishing any further videos defaming TV18 Broadcast Limited on his social media pages. Maridhas later agreed to compromise terms with News18, however Gunasekharan’s case is still on.