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SC grants bail to YouTuber, says "How many will be jailed before polls?"

New Delhi: Supreme Court on Monday restored the bail granted to YouTuber 'Sattai' Durai Murugan who was accused of making a derogatory speech against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister MK Stalin in 2021.

"If before elections we start putting behind bars everyone who makes allegations on YouTube, imagine how many will be jailed?" observed the Supreme Court on Monday.

A Bench of Justice Abhay S Oka and Justice Ujjal Bhuyan set aside the order cancelling Murugan bail and opined that he could not be said to have misused the liberty granted to him.

When senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the State, requested that the apex court to impose condition on the Youtuber so that he does not make any scandalous remarks while on bail, the bench told Rohatgi, "Who shall decide whether a statement is scandalous or not."

Observing that Murugan did not misuse his liberty by protesting and expressing his views, the apex court ordered, "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."

The top court was hearing Murugan's plea challenging a Madras High Court order, which cancelled his bail observing that within a few days of giving an undertaking before the court (based on which he was granted relief), he indulged in further offence and made derogatory remarks against the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister.

Murugan allegedly made derogatory remarks with an intention to breach public peace and tranquillity and on a complaint of DMK member, police registered a case against him. Murugan was arrested in October 2021.

The Madras High Court had in November 2021 granted bail to Murugan, however, later a division bench of the High Court cancelled his bail. In 2022, the apex court had granted interim bail to Murugan. 

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