The Supreme Court on May 8 declined to intervene in a plea filed by YouTuber Manish Kashyap to club and transfer to Patna the FIRs accusing him of spreading ‘fake’ videos about Bihar migrants being under attack in Tamil Nadu.
“We have serious reservations here. These are stable States… a State like Tamil Nadu. You just create anything and cause disquiet in that State. We cannot lend our offices to such things,” Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud firmly told Kashyap’s lawyer, senior advocate Maninder Singh.
The court said Kashyap was at liberty to pursue his legal remedies in accordance with the law before other fora.
Kashyap is booked under the National Security Act (NSA) and is in detention in Tamil Nadu in multiple FIRs.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, Additional Advocate General Amit Tiwari and advocate Joseph Aristotle, for Tamil Nadu, said Kashyap had “political aspirations and the videos were an attempt at political opportunism”.
“The accused attempted to gain benefit out of the precarious situation in Tamil Nadu which sufficiently leads to the unmistakable conclusion that he, not only created, but also consciously exploited a vulnerable situation for gaining political dividends without any concern for national security and public tranquility,” Tamil Nadu justified the charges under the NSA.
Kashyap is facing criminal prosecution in Bihar too.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, for Kashyap, argued that his client was a journalist. He has been falsely charged under the NSA. “If this boy continues to be in jail under detention, entire journalism is under threat,” Mr. Singh argued.
The State counsel for Bihar however countered that Kashyap was a “habitual offender”. He was previously arrested in 2019. He had contested in Assembly and parliamentary elections.
Tamil Nadu also objected to the plea to club the FIRs, saying they pertain to different offences.
Tamil Nadu had revealed in the Supreme Court how “false and unverified” videos allegedly posted online by Kashyap about attacks on Bihar migrant labourers may have triggered violence and riots but for the timely action of the police and State authorities.
“Through false and unverified videos posted across social media platforms, the accused (Kashyap) attempted to instigate violence between migrant labourers from Bihar and the people of Tamil Nadu and to create enmity among different groups on the grounds of language and create a volatile law and order situation in the State,” the State had said in its recent affidavit.
The affidavit had said the prompt steps were taken by the Tamil Nadu Police and authorities along with their Bihar counterparts to reach out and calm the rising anxieties of migrant workers in the face of misinformation and rumours which had circulated online.
“If not for these efforts, the misinformation and rumours would have definitely triggered violence and riots in the State of Tamil Nadu,” it noted.