SC to Hear Bihar YouTuber’s Plea Seeking Clubbing of FIRs on Tuesday

The Supreme Court on Monday adjourned till April 11 a plea filed by a YouTuber, arrested for allegedly circulating fake videos on migrant labourers from Bihar being attacked in Tamil Nadu, seeking clubbing of the FIRs lodged against him.

A bench of Justices Krishna Murari and Sanjay Karol could not take up the matter as it did not sit after lunch.

The matter was mentioned last week before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud for urgent listing.

The CJI-headed bench had denied interim relief to the petitioner.

The counsel appearing for petitioner Manish Kashyap, who has also sought quashing of the FIRs lodged against him over the same alleged cause of action, had told the apex court that his client has now been booked under the National Security Act (NSA).

Senior advocate Sanjay Hegde, along with advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, appeared in the matter on behalf of the state of Tamil Nadu.

Police had earlier said Kashyap was booked under the stringent NSA.

According to Madurai Superintendent of Police Shiva Prasad, Kashyap, who circulated fake videos of Bihari migrant labourers being attacked in Tamil Nadu on social media platforms, has been detained under the NSA.

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

Cases have been filed against Kashyap and others for allegedly circulating fake videos of migrant workers being attacked in the southern state.

In his plea filed in the apex court through advocate AP Singh, the petitioner has sought clubbing of all the FIRs registered against him in Tamil Nadu with those lodged in Bihar.

The plea said several FIRs have been registered against him, including three in Bihar and two in Tamil Nadu.

The petition said the issue of alleged violence on Bihari migrants in Tamil Nadu was widely reported in the media and the petitioner, from March 1 onwards, raised his voice against it by making videos on social media platforms and writing content on Twitter.

“It is pertinent to mention herein that the petitioner has been involved in ‘investigative journalism’ and has been critical in raising his voice against governmental actions through his various social media platforms,” the plea said.

It alleged that multiple complaints and FIRs on the same subject have been filed at the behest of the government in Bihar on “politically motivated grounds, precipitated with malice” against the petitioner.

It said Kashyap surrendered before the police in Bihar on March 18 in connection with a previous case, and on March 27, he was handed over to the Tamil Nadu Police.

“The multiple FIRs lodged against the petitioner are a blatant example of police power intended to cause a chilling effect on freedom of speech and expression of the media,” the petition said.

It has also sought a direction that neither cognisance of any complaint be taken by any court nor any FIR be registered by police on the cause of action as stated in the petition.

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