Supreme Court Restores Bail for YouTuber Accused of Derogatory Speech Against Tamil Nadu CM

Supreme Court reinstates bail for YouTuber 'Sattai' Durai Murugan, accused of derogatory speech against Tamil Nadu CM. Emphasizes freedom of expression and lack of grounds for cancellation. State represented by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi.

The Supreme Court on Monday reinstated the bail granted to YouTuber 'Sattai' Durai Murugan, who faced allegations of delivering a derogatory speech against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin in 2021.

During the proceedings, a Bench comprising Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan made poignant remarks emphasizing the significance of freedom of expression, particularly in the context of allegations made on platforms like YouTube. They cautioned against the potential ramifications of imprisoning individuals for voicing allegations, especially in the lead-up to elections. The Justices urged a broader perspective in determining what constitutes scandalous speech.

The Court upheld Murugan's right to express his views through protests, asserting that he had not misused his liberty. They rendered a verdict to restore Murugan's bail, citing the absence of substantial grounds to warrant its cancellation. Notably, the Court acknowledged Murugan's two-and-a-half-year tenure on bail, emphasizing the presumption of innocence until proven guilty.

In their statement, the Justices declared, "Leave granted. By impugned order, benefit of bail granted to appellant was cancelled. This Court continued interim bail earlier; he continues to be on bail for 2.5 years...All the same, we do not find grounds to cancel bail. We thus quash the High Court order cancelling bail, and restore the earlier order granting bail. Needless to say, cancellation of bail can be applied for if deemed fit."

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi represented the State of Tamil Nadu during the proceedings, advocating for the cancellation of Murugan's bail.

The case stemmed from allegations that Murugan and other members of the Naam Tamilar Katchi (NTK) party violated COVID-19 norms by staging a protest after being denied permission. During this protest, Murugan purportedly made derogatory remarks intended to disrupt public peace and tranquility.

A member of the DMK filed a complaint after witnessing Murugan's speech on a YouTube Channel named Ravana, where CM Stalin was reportedly mocked. Subsequently, Murugan was arrested in October 2021.

Initially, the Madras High Court granted bail to Murugan in November 2021. However, a Division Bench of the High Court later revoked the bail. Nevertheless, in 2022, the Supreme Court granted interim bail to Murugan, ensuring his release.