Karthik Gopinath was arrested on May 30 on charges that he collected money to renovate temples, without permission from the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department.

Karthik Gopinath wearing a dark grey shirt, seated in a chair, against the backdrop of a grey-colored wall and his channel logoScreengrab
news Court Sunday, June 26, 2022 - 12:56

The Madras High Court has passed an interim order restraining the police from filing a chargesheet against YouTuber Karthik Gopinath for allegedly illegally collecting public money to renovate temples. The order was passed while hearing a petition by Karthik seeking to quash the FIR lodged against him. He was arrested on May 30 by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Avadi Police Commissionerate, on charges that he collected money via fundraising platform Milaap for renovating the vandalised statues in the Mathura Kaliamman temple, located in Siruvachur, and other temples, without permission from the Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments (HR&CE) department.

According to a report in The Hindu, Justice N Sathish Kumar passed the order but said that the investigation can go forward. The police had sought more time to submit the necessary proofs even after the court granted two adjournments. Karthik’s advocate V Raghavachari contended that this delay suggested that the police registered the case and arrested him without any substantive proof, and asked the court to stay the FIR. However, the judge, while passing an interim stay on filing of chargesheet, allowed the continuation of investigation.

Karthik runs a popular YouTube channel called Ilaya Bharatham, in which he posted a video of vandalised temple statues from two temples. He also linked a fundraiser on Milaap to this YouTube video, saying that the money raised would be utilised to rebuild these statues. The fundraiser collected Rs 33 lakh against Rs 10 lakh which he had asked for. According to Milaap, most of the amount collected is still with them and not released to Karthik.

Meanwhile, the executive officer of Mathura Kaliamman Temple, T Aravindhan, filed a complaint stating that Karthick did not get permission from the HR&CE department for collection of the money and alleged that he had wrongfully used the money for personal purposes. Based on this complaint, Karthick was booked under sections 406 (breach of trust), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and 66(D) (punishment for cheating by personation by using computer resource) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

Read: YouTuber Karthik Gopinath didn’t remit money to govt despite notices, says FIR

Meanwhile, Karthik moved a bail petition in a local court at Poonamallee, and was granted bail on June 8.

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