Madras HC Orders YouTuber to Pay ₹50 Lakh Compensation for Defaming Trans Activist

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Published on: January 14, 2024 at 11:06 IST

The Madras High Court has directed YouTuber Joe Micheal Praveen to pay ₹50 lakh as compensation to politician and transgender activist Apsara Reddy for posting defamatory material and videos against her on social media and YouTube [Apsara Reddy v. Joe Micheal Praveen and anr].

Reddy, a renowned speaker, journalist, and AIADMK spokesperson, filed a complaint stating that YouTuber Joe Micheal Praveen repeatedly posted defamatory content targeting her.

In an order issued on January 4, Justice N Sathish Kumar examined various videos and posts submitted by Reddy, concluding that they were defamatory and had been shared online without any attempt by Praveen to verify their truth.

The Court expressed, “The 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.”

Justice N Sathish Kumar noted that the YouTube videos contained objectionable and malicious statements without any semblance of truth, making them defamatory in nature. Consequently, the Court held Praveen liable to pay damages.

Reddy informed the court that in 2017, while she was working as an editor at a well-known magazine, Praveen had sought to collaborate on a joint video program. However, when Reddy declined, Praveen started spreading gossip and circulating negative notions about her.

Several speaking engagements and interactions were canceled due to Praveen’s defamatory posts, causing stress and mental agony to Reddy. She demanded ₹1.25 crores as damages.

The Court concurred that Praveen’s posts and videos had caused significant damage and humiliation to Reddy’s reputation. It emphasized that while one had the right to post videos on YouTube, it could not encroach upon others’ privacy.

The reputation of the plaintiff (Reddy) has been lowered to a level that many of the programs of the plaintiff have been canceled abruptly. All these factors clearly indicate that though the damages cannot be certain, the plaintiff has to be compensated at least for a sum of Rs.50 lakhs,” the Court ordered.

The Court acknowledged that the defamatory YouTube videos had been deleted by Google (owner of YouTube). Consequently, Reddy did not pursue her case against Google, the second defendant in the suit.

In conclusion, the Court issued a warning against allowing such malicious content on the platform in the future.

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