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HC quashes case against YouTuber Maridhas

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday quashed a private complaint against YouTuber Maridhas that was filed after he had uploaded a video pertaining to the anti-CAA ‘kolam’ protest.

Justice G.R. Swaminathan quashed the private complaint against Maridhas on the file of the Judicial Magistrate III, Thoothukudi. The complaint was filed under Section 500 (Defamation) of the Indian Penal Code by a DMK functionary S.R.S. Umari Shankar of Thoothukudi district.

The complainant said that Maridhas had tarnished the reputation of the DMK in the video. However, Maridhas denied the allegations and said cases were deliberately foisted against him to silence him as he was vocal on YouTube about social issues.

The judge said that there was nothing on record to show that DMK had authorised the complainant to file the complaint. The complainant had filed it in his individual capacity and not on behalf of the DMK.

The petitioner had not targeted the members of DMK as such. The reference to DMK persons occurring in the video is not per se defamatory. What appears to be defamatory are only references to the party. The question is when the political party alone is defamed, whether any member can file a complaint for defamation.

The offence of defamation is not like any other IPC offence. Section 199 CrPC contains an embargo that no court shall take cognisance of the offence except upon a complaint made by some person aggrieved by the offence. The expression some person aggrieved obviously includes a third party apart from the person defamed. But, the expression some party aggrieved cannot be construed too expansively, the judge said.

If a recognised political party has been defamed, a complaint by a high ranking functionary like the President or Secretary of the Party would definitely be maintainable. Where the Party alone in contra distinction with partymen has been defamed, others not at the helm of affairs cannot maintain a complaint as they would not be persons aggrieved, the judge said.

No imputation has been made against DMK partymen as such. The complainant had not suffered any legal injury. His reputation has not in any way been lowered. The Party had not authorised the filing of the complaint. Since he is not a person aggrieved, continuation of the proceedings would amount to an abuse of the legal process, the judge said and quashed the private complaint.

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