By- Akshay Gurnani
“If the defendant wants to raise any social issue, he can always raise them but cannot make statements without verification”, the Court said while allowing News 18’s interim prayers in its Rs 1.5 crore defamation suit.
The Madras High Court on Wednesday allowed a plea to take down videos uploaded online by YouTuber Maridhas, in which he is reported to have accused News 18 Tamil Nadu and its journalists of being “Anti-Hindu” in its reportage.
TV 18 Broadcast Limited, which runs the Tamil news channel News 18 Tamil Nadu, and two of its employees have instituted a Rs 1.5 crore defamation suit against Maridhas over these videos
To allow the interim injunction pleas sought against Maridhas, Justice CV Karthikeyan reasoned that a prima facie defamation case has been made out by the plaintiffs. The Judge observed further, “If the defendant wants to raise any social issue, he can always raise them but cannot make statements without verification. Moreover the plaintiff has come forward with a specific allegation that the defendant had created a false E-mail justifying the contents of the videos uploaded by him. This also substantiates the finding that the plaintiffs have come to Court with a prima facie case for grant of interim injunction.”
The Court has also restrained Maridhas from uploading any further video content against News 18 that may be defamatory.
Apart from uploading the videos in question, Maridhas had also tweeted out a screenshot of an email he claimed to have received from an Editor in News 18. The screenshotted email stated that the news outlet had found that a “journalist of biased opinion” had infiltrated the organisation and that correctional measures were being taken to ensure unbiased reporting.
However, the Editor to whom the email was attributed was prompt to respond that the email was fake. In a tweet sent out the same day, the Editor added that he was informed that a fake email ID had been created in his name by an impersonator, which was deleted soon after the fabricated email was sent.
The News 18 team approached the High Court after the Chennai Police is stated to have failed to act on a complaint made earlier this month. Maridhas’ vitriolic attack was challenged as defamatory, derogatory and in the nature of a threat against News 18 and its journalists.
While allowing their plea for interim relief, Justice Karthikeyan also remarked, “The balance of convenience is also only in favour of the plaintiff, since the defendant has nothing to lose by not putting up further videos. He can always take any defence, but till such defences are examined by the Court, it would only be appropriate that no further videos are put up in public view against the interest of the plaintiffs.”
The interim injunction has been granted until August 12, when the matter will be taken up next for hearing.
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