The Madras High Court on Wednesday restrained YouTuber Maridhas from uploading defamatory videos against a Tamil television channel and its journalists while directing him to remove all such videos posted earlier.
The action came after News18 Tamil Nadu news channel, its senior editor M Gunasekaran and senior anchor-cum-producer Jeeva Sagapthan filed a defamation suit seeking damages of Rs 1.5 crore from Maridhas.
Justice C V Karthikeyan, admitting the civil and criminal defamation suit, opined that Maridhas cannot make baseless allegations against the television channel and asked him to remove the videos that have been posted earlier on YouTube.
The judge also restrained Maridhas, who also runs a website, from uploading defamatory videos against the television news channel. Maridhas had, in a video posted on July 5, alleged that several journalists working at the channel, including editor Gunasekaran, are biased towards DMK and DK and are acting on behalf of these political parties.
The vlogger had sent an e-mail to the News18 management seeking action against Gunasekaran and others for their actions. A few days later, Maridhas posted another video claiming that he received an e-mail from the management of the television channel promising action against the journalists.
However, News18 Tamil Nadu filed a complaint with the police against the “fake e-mail.” Maridhas video had led to a major uproar in Tamil Nadu with opposition parties accusing him of acting at the “behest of BJP” by targeting journalists.
In the defamation suit, the news channel and the two journalists said Maridhas posted three videos on July 5, July 10, and July 11 levelling “baseless allegations” against them by claiming they are “controlled by and biased towards DMK and DK.”
The defamation suit said the allegations by Maridhas has cast a cloud of doubt in the mind of the viewers of News 18 Tamil Nadu which results in “grave harm and injury” to TV18 Broadcast Limited, the company which owns the channel, that thrives on the “trust of the public.”
“The defendant (Maridhas) has promulgated the entire scheme posting the defamatory videos with a pre-planned ulterior motive to disrupt the independent functioning of the 1st plaintiff (the channel) and to discredit and defame the plaintiffs (two journalists herein,” the petition said.
In the petition, Gunasekaran and Jeeva Sagapthan said Maridhas has not only resorted to the agenda of publicly defaming and spreading fake news against them but has also spoken about their personal lives without any verification or comments from them.