SC reinstates YouTuber’s bail; quashes Madras HC order

New Delhi, Apr 8 (UNI) The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the bail granted to YouTuber Sattai Duraimurugan, who faced allegations of making derogatory remarks against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin.

A bench comprising Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan overturned the Madras High Court’s decision to revoke Sattai’s bail, asserting that he had not misused the liberty afforded to him.

During the proceedings, Justice Oka questioned the implications of incarcerating individuals for making allegations on YouTube, particularly in the lead-up to elections, highlighting the complexity of determining what constitutes scandalous speech.

Justice Oka remarked, “If before elections we start putting behind the bars everyone who makes allegations on YouTube, imagine how many will be jailed? And he questioned, “Who decides what is scandalous?”

Justice Ujjal Bhuyan commented, “Look at the bigger picture.”

The Supreme Court acknowledged that Sattai’s expression of views and participation in protests did not amount to misuse of liberty.

Despite requests from Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Tamil Nadu to impose conditions preventing Sattai from making scandalous remarks while on bail, the court remained unconvinced, questioning the subjective nature of such determinations.

Sattai’s challenge to the Madras High Court’s decision stemmed from allegations that he had breached an undertaking given to the court by making derogatory statements against the Tamil Nadu CM shortly after being granted bail.

The Bench directed, “Benefit of bail granted to appellant was cancelled.” This Supreme Court directed to continue the interim bail granted earlier. “He continues to be on bail for 2.5 years. We do not think that by protesting and expressing views he can be said to have misused his liberty,” the court said.

The bench further said, ” We thus quash the High Court order cancelling bail and restore the earlier order granting bail. ”

Justice Oka asked Rohatgi who shall decide whether a statement is scandalous or not.?

The Apex Court was hearing Sattai’s challenge to a Madras High Court order, which cancelled his bail observing that within a few days of giving an undertaking before the court (based on which he was granted relief), Sattai indulged in further offence and made derogatory remarks against Stalin.

Aggrieved by the order, Sattai approached the Supreme Court. Notice was issued on his plea in July 2022, when the top Court continued the bail granted to him in August 2021.

As such, Sattai continued to be on bail for more than 2.5 years.

In support of the State’s case, Rohatgi drew the court’s attention to two FIRs registered against Sattai in December 2022 and March 2023.

After examining the FIRs, the Court found that the allegations against Sattai are that he protested condemning the demolition of Babri Masjid and others speaking furiously and demanding the release of certain persons in custody.

The Court Said “We don’t think that by protesting and by expressing his views, it can be said that the appellant has misused the liberty granted to him by the court.

Even otherwise we are of the view that the grounds mentioned in the High Court order cannot constitute grounds for cancellation of bail”, the Supreme Court observed and restored the bail order.

The Bench clarified that it would be open for the State to approach for cancellation of Sattai’s bail if he misuses the liberty granted.

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