Keywords: MLA, Publishing News, Anticipatory bail.
“On Friday, a court in Kerala rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Shajan Scaria, the editor and publisher of the YouTube Channel Marunadan Malayali. He was accused of airing a derogatory news segment against MLA PV Sreenijin [Case: Shajan Scaria v SHO & Anr.].”
Judge Honey M Varghese ruled that Scaria was aware of MLA Sreejin’s belonging to the scheduled caste (SC) community. Consequently, the publication of the mentioned news item was deemed adequate to constitute an offense under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC/ST Act). The special court, operating under the SC/ST Act, was deliberating on an anticipatory bail request submitted by Scaria. He is facing charges under Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(u) of the SC/ST Act, as well as Section 120(0) of the Kerala Police Act. According to the prosecution, Scaria, as the editor and publisher of Marunadan Malayali, aired a news segment that included false, unfounded, and defamatory accusations against the de facto complainant, MLA Sreenijin. It was claimed that the news item was broadcast with the intention of insulting MLA Sreenijin, who belongs to the SC community. The counsel representing Scaria contended that the publication of the aforementioned news item aimed to highlight the mismanagement of a sports hostel, which occurred under the leadership of MLA Sreenijin, who serves as the chairman of the District Sports Council. Furthermore, the counsel argued that the news item was not published with the awareness of the MLA’s belonging to the SC community. In addition, it was highlighted that the news item made no reference to the caste or community of the MLA. The counsel representing MLA Sreenijin, along with the public prosecutor, countered the petitioner’s arguments. They asserted that there is a strong possibility that Scaria was aware of MLA Sreenijin’s SC community background, as he was elected in a reserved seat for the SC community in the legislative assembly election. The counsel representing the MLA additionally argued that the news item presented to the court was an edited version, as the original version by Scaria referred to MLA Sreenijin as a ‘mafia don’. The court acknowledged that Scaria had removed the initially published news item that addressed the MLA as a ‘Mafia don’. Consequently, the Court concluded that Scaria possessed knowledge of MLA Sreejin’s SC community affiliation, making the publication of the aforementioned news item adequate to constitute an offense under the SC/ST Act.
Hence, it dismissed the anticipatory bail plea.
Written By- Muskan Vyas, Legal Journalist Intern under Legal Vidhiya