“Can’t Create Disquiet”: Supreme Court Rejects Jailed YouTuber’s Request

The arrested Youtuber faces several FIRs and out of them, three have been lodged in Bihar.

New Delhi:

In a setback to jailed Bihar YouTuber Manish Kashyap, the Supreme Court on Monday refused to entertain his plea challenging invocation of the stringent National Security Act (NSA) against him for allegedly circulating fake videos of migrant labourers being attacked in Tamil Nadu.

“You have a stable state, the state of Tamil Nadu. Can you circulate anything and create disquiet in the state. We cannot be lending our ears to all this,” a bench headed by Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud said.

The bench, also comprising justices P S Narasimha and J B Pardiwala, however, granted Mr Kashyap the liberty to challenge the invocation of the NSA at an appropriate judicial forum preferably in the high court.

It also rejected the plea for clubbing all 19 FIRs against him and their transfer to Bihar.

“We are not inclined to entertain the plea,” the bench said while rejecting the vehement submissions of senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Mr Kashyap who is presently lodged in Madurai jail of Tamil Nadu.

Refusing to quash Mr Kashyap’s detention under the NSA, the bench said it cannot be hearing this kind of petition.

The counsel for Mr Kashyap said the accused had made the alleged videos for his YouTube channel based on media reports published in certain newspapers.

“If this boy has to be in jail, all journalists have to be in jail then,” the lawyer argued, adding the FIRs be clubbed and transferred to Bihar where the first complaint was lodged by the police.

The lawyer, appearing for Bihar, referred to the details of the FIRs lodged against Mr Kashyap in the state and opposed the plea.

He said Mr Kashyap has been a habitual offender and has cases for extortion and attempt to murder pending against him.

Senior advocate Kapil Sibal and lawyer Amit Anand Tiwari, representing Tamil Nadu, said the accused can move the Madras High Court for clubbing of the FIRs.

“He is not a journalist and was a politician who has contested the elections in Bihar,” Mr Sibal said. The top court did not agree to the submissions of Kashyap’s lawyer that the invocation of NSA has been quashed in several cases.

Mr Kashyap was arrested in Bihar after he surrendered at the Jagdishpur police station on March 18 and was later brought to Tamil Nadu where NSA was invoked against him in April.

In its reply to the plea of Mr Kashyap, the Tamil Nadu government had said multiple FIRs that have been registered in the state against Mr Kashyap are not politically motivated but because he disturbed “public order and national integrity” by circulating fake videos of migrant labourers being attacked in the southern state.

In an affidavit, the state government had opposed Mr Kashyap’s plea to club the FIRs lodged against him, saying he cannot “seek the shelter of the umbrella of constitutional rights” The state government had claimed Mr Kashyap attempted to instigate violence between Bihari migrant labourers and the people of Tamil Nadu through false and unverified videos.

“The registration of multiple FIRs was not done with any political intention, nor to suppress the constitutional rights of the accused, but with the intention to stop the spread of misinformation and to ensure that the person guilty of such offences does not escape from the clutches of law.

“Freedom of speech and expression is not absolute but should be exercised with caution and responsibility. By disturbing public order and national integrity, the accused cannot seek shelter under the umbrella of constitutional rights,” the Tamil Nadu government had said in the affidavit.

It said the contention that there was a complete abuse of the process of law by registering multiple FIRs is not sustainable.

The due process of law was followed by the police in all the FIRs registered in Tamil Nadu, it had said, claiming Mr Kashyap disturbed public peace and tranquillity and created a volatile law and order situation in the state.

A great amount of fear and panic was created among the families of migrant labourers, it had said.

Earlier, the top court had granted time to the Tamil Nadu government, represented by lawyer Amit Anand Tiwari, to respond to the amended plea of Mr Kashyap against whom the NSA was invoked for allegedly circulating the videos.

The arrested Youtuber faces several FIRs and out of them, three have been lodged in Bihar.

The top court had on April 11 issued notice to the Centre, the Tamil Nadu and Bihar governments on Mr Kashyap’s plea seeking clubbing of the FIRs lodged against him and their transfer to his native state.

The bench had on April 21 directed the state government not to shift Mr Kashyap from the Madurai Central Prison.

Mr Kashyap had on April 5 appeared before the Madurai district court which ordered that he be remanded in judicial custody for 15 days, following which he was sent to the Madurai central prison.

In his plea before the top court, Mr Kashyap sought clubbing of all the FIRs registered against him in Tamil Nadu with those lodged in Bihar.

He also said the issue of alleged violence in Tamil Nadu against migrant labourers from Bihar was widely reported in the media, and the petitioner, since March 1, was raising his voice against it by making videos on social media platforms and through content on Twitter.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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