Thursday, February 22, 2024

Online abuse can lead to case under SC/ST Atrocities Act: Kerala High Court

The Kerala High Court on Tuesday held that abuses and insults made on an online platform against a person belonging to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe would attract the offences under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The HC was hearing a anticipatory bail petition by a Youtuber who was accused of making disparaging remarks against members of the Scheduled Tribes, according to Bar and Bench. The court denied the anticipatory bail.

On Tuesday, the HC gave the verdict on a petition filed by Sooraj Sukumar, the managing director of True TV online news portal. Sukumar had posted an interview of the husband and father-in-law of a woman who had accused controversial journalist TP Nandakumar of verbally abusing her. The woman claimed that Nandakumar had forced her to make a morphed video of a woman minister in Kerala.

According to the FIR, Sukumar insulted the woman’s husband and her father-in-law – both members of a Scheduled Tribe – and spewed hatred against them during the interview. The interview was reportedly posted on YouTube as well as Facebook.

Sukumar’s lawyer argued that the case could not attract offences under Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of the Atrocities Act, as the insult must take place in the presence of the victim.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held that the digital presence of the victim through the internet was sufficient to be considered a “public view” under the Atrocities Act.


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