SC Expresses Displeasure Over Invocation Of NSA By Tamil Nadu Against Manish Kashyap, Restrains State From Transfering Him Out Of Madurai Prison
The Supreme Court today issued notice on the plea filed by digital media Journalist Manish Kashyap challenging the invocation of the National Security Act by the State of Tamil Nadu against him. The Court has also directed that he should not be taken on production warrant anywhere else from Madurai Central Prison where he is presently lodged.
The Bench expressed displeasure over the invocation of the NSA by Tamil Nadu against the YouTuber journalist.
Manish Kashyap had approached the Apex Court challenging multiple FIRs lodged in the State of Bihar and the State of Tamil Nadu against him for YouTube videos allegedly containing fake news about violence against Bihari migrant workers in Tamil Nadu. He was also granted liberty to amend his plea and challenge the invocation of the NSA.
The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice PS Narasimha has directed the state of Tamil Nadu to respond to the additional relief sought against the invocation of NSA and has directed the listing of the matter on the next Friday.
Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal appeared for the state of Tamil Nadu and submitted the state does not mind clubbing of the FIRs. He said that one FIR in Tamil Nadu can be clubbed, but others are on different issues.
Senior Advocate Sidharth Dave submitted that as per the state's affidavit, there are six FIRs in Tamil Nadu and that he is under imprisonment under the NSA.
"What is this? NSA!", the CJI asked Kapil Sibal.
He is making fake videos and uploading them saying that Biharis are being killed in Tamil Nadu, Sibal responded.
"We will club the FIRs, but NSA?", the CJI said, expressing displeasure over the invocation of NSA against Manish.
"Please club it with the Bihar FIRs. While I am in custody in Bihar, I was taken to Tamil Nadu", Dave submitted. He submitted a chart showing that the Facebook posts are similar. He said that there are three FIRs in Bihar.
"We will now transfer all the five FIRs to Bihar", the CJI said.
"No No my lord. They are separate incidents", Sibal responded.
"Why this vengeance against this man?", the CJI asked.
See his posts. He is a politician. He goes to Tamil Nadu and asks why people from Bihar are being killed. He goes there and interviews people, Sibal replied.
In all these, the commission of the offence is videos or write-ups on social media, the Court said. He has not posted it in Tamil Nadu. He has posted it on Facebook, the Bench added.
The substance of the content is the same. We are not quashing the FIRs. Let it be investigated by one investigative agency, Chief Justice remarked.
"He has gone to Tamil Nadu. These are not just videos," Sibal submitted on behalf of Tamil Nadu.
The CJI then asked where Manish is based. "He is based in Bihar", Dave responded. Viciousness is in the invocation of NSA, he added.
To question whether Manish has challenged the invocation of NSA, Dave said, "I have challenged it here. We were told last time that NSA was invoked. We were taken by surprise".
The Counsel for Bihar then made submission in support of the state of Tamil Nadu. It is not only videos, he said.
"As the state of Bihar, you are opposing the transfer to Bihar?", Justice Narasimha asked the Counsel.
"Yes. This person is already having 8 criminal cases. He is also accused of 307", the Counsel for Bihar responded.
Another Bench of the Apex Court had on April 11, 2023, issued notice to the State of Bihar and the Union of India, but refused to pass any interim relief in favour of Manish, stating that he is already under incarceration. Appearing for the petitioner, Senior Advocate Siddhartha Dave along with Advocates Aditya Deshwal and Ridam Arora had submitted that the petitioner is a journalist and runs a Youtube channel by the name of 'Sach Tak' in Bihar.
The Bench of Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Sanjay Karol while issuing notice to the State of Bihar and the Union of India remarked, "We could have protected you if you were not in custody". The Bench then asked the states of Bihar and Tamil Nadu to file their replies in the shortest possible time and adjourned the matter to April 21, 2023.
The petitioner was arrested on March 18. On April 5, a Madurai district court remanded Manish to judicial custody for 15 days. He was sent to the Madurai central prison, where he was to remain till April 19. Manish's plea before the Apex Court seeks interim bail and clubbing of multiple FIRs, which were registered against him in the States of Bihar and Tamil Nadu.
Cause Title: Manish Kashyap @ Tripurari Kumar Tiwari v. Union of India & Ors. [W.P.(Crl.) No. 148/2023]