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Supreme Court grants interim protection from arrest to Marunadan Malayali Editor in criminal case under SC/ST Act 

The Supreme Court granted interim protection from arrest on Monday to Shajan Skariah, Editor and Publisher of Malayalam YouTube News Channel ‘Marunadan Malayali,’ who was booked in a criminal case under the SC/ST Act for making derogatory remarks against Kerala MLA P.V. Sreenijin.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice P.S. Narasimha issued notice on the special leave petition filed by Skariah against the Kerala High Court order passed on June 30, which had dismissed his appeal against rejection of anticipatory bail by a Special SC/ST Court in the matter.

Senior Advocate V Giri, appearing for Sreenijin, requested the bench to read the transcript of the video. 

After perusing the transcript, the CJI observed that there appeared no whisper of allegation under the SC/ST Act. 

Appearing for Sreenijin, Senior Advocate V. Giri contended that Skariah was a repeat offender, who has made insulting statements against several persons. 

On being asked by the CJI whether he wanted to teach the petitioner a lesson, the Counsel said Skariah used severely insulting statements against Sreejinin, calling him a ‘black money dealer,’ ‘mafia don’ and ‘murderer’.

The Supreme Court disapproved of the statements, terming them as being in bad taste. However, it said the defamatory comments could not constitute offences under the SC/ST Act. 

The Bench then directed Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra, appearing for Skariah, to advise the Editor to be more restrained in his comments as a senior journalist.

On June 30, the Single Judge Bench of Justice V.G. Arun had observed that the allegations levelled against the second respondent (MLA Sreenijin) included murder and contained insinuation against his father-in-law. Further, aspersions had been cast on unnamed judicial officers and the title of ‘Mafia Don’ had also been bestowed upon the MLA. 

The High Court noted that the video contained insults, which were intended to humiliate the second respondent (MLA Sreenijin) in public view and dismissed his appeal against the order passed by Special Judge for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act Honey M. Varghese in the matter. 

(Case title: Shajan Skaria vs The State of Kerala)

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