The Madras High Court has ordered a YouTuber Joe Micheal Praveen to pay Rupees 50 Lakhs as compensation to Apsara Reddy, a transgender politician and activist.

The Court found that the statements made by the YouTuber were malicious and defamatory, which violated privacy.

In that context, the Bench of Justice N Sathish Kumar observed that, "A perusal of the entire defamatory statements particularly the contents in the videos, which is also extracted in the plaint, the statements are nothing but malicious and defamatory touching upon the privacy of any individual. Merely because a person has a right to post in YouTube, he cannot cross his limit encroaching upon the privacy of others. Though the publication is a right, such a right is subject to reasonable restrictions and cannot be encroached upon the privacy of others. When such statements are surfaced, particularly in social media like YouTube touching upon the character, behaviour and personal life of any individual, it will have serious impact in that particular area. The very statements surfaced in the Youtube videos Ex.P.14, makes it clear that the same are objectionable and malicious statements have been made without any semblance of truth. Such statements perse defamatory in nature with malicious content."

In light of the same, it was ordered that, "though the damages cannot be certain, the plaintiff has to be compensated atleast for a sum of Rs.50 lakhs."

Senior Counsel V Raghavachari appeared for the plaintiff, while Counsel G Balasubramanian appeared for the defendants.

The plaintiff was the Official Spokesperson of AIADMK who also held the position of National General Secretary of All India Mahila Congress.

In 2017, while working as one of the editors in Provogue magazine, the plaintiff shared that respondent expressed a desire for a joint video or program. However, when the plaintiff declined, the respondent became upset and started circulating defamatory content about her, spreading negative notions regarding her social activities. The plaintiff explained that the respondent's livelihood depended on posting and publishing defamatory articles and commentaries with false details about celebrities, uploading videos without their consent.

The plaintiff detailed the defamatory videos posted by the respondent, mentioning that some scheduled programs in which she was supposed to speak had been cancelled due to his actions. The defamatory content caused the plaintiff mental distress and depression, leading her to seek counselling sessions with a psychologist.

The High Court noted that, "considering the nature of videos uploaded and the plaintiff who was in limelight and had got very good reputation and was exposing cause of transgender and gender equality and the plaintiff has been invited by the top most leaders in politics, and the plaintiff has also given opportunity to speak in a foreign soil. The reputation of the plaintiff has been lowered to such a level that many of the programmes of the plaintiff has been cancelled abruptly. Cancellation of such programmes abruptly is mainly because of the circulation of the malicious contents in the social media."

In light of the same, the suit was allowed.

Cause Title: Apsara Reddy vs Joe Micheal Praveen & Anr.

Click here to read/download the Judgment