Chennai- The Madras High Court has ordered YouTuber Joe Micheal Praveen to compensate politician and transgender individual Apsara Reddy with ₹50 lakh for disseminating defamatory material and videos about her on social media [Apsara Reddy v. Joe Micheal Praveen and anr].
Apsara Reddy, a renowned speaker, journalist, and spokesperson for AIADMK, informed the court that Joe Micheal Praveen repeatedly made defamatory posts targeting her.
In a decision rendered on January 4, Justice N Sathish Kumar examined various videos and posts submitted by Reddy, concluding that they were defamatory and were posted online without Praveen attempting to verify their accuracy.
Expressing her gratitude to the judiciary, Apsara wrote on her X handle, " I respect and thank the Madras High Court for this landmark judgement. I respected the process of law and attended every hearing. Choosing not to attend court proceedings is also a sign of cowardice and guilt. When summons are repeatedly served, when accused stays away, it shows the scant respect for law and our country’s courts. Justice has been served"
In the order, the court said, that the perusal of the entire defamatory statements, particularly the contents in the videos, which are 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 on YouTube, he cannot cross his limit encroaching upon the privacy of others.
The court emphasized that the right to publication is subject to reasonable restrictions and cannot infringe upon others' privacy. The defamatory statements on YouTube were deemed objectionable and malicious, with no semblance of truth. Consequently, the court held Praveen liable to pay damages.
Reddy informed the court that in 2017, while she served as an Editor at a prominent magazine, Praveen expressed a desire to collaborate on a video program. However, when Reddy declined, Praveen began circulating negative notions about her.
Praveen's defamatory posts led to the cancellation of several speaking engagements and shows Reddy was invited to, causing significant stress and mental anguish. Reddy demanded ₹1.25 crores in damages.
The court agreed that Praveen's posts and videos inflicted substantial damage and humiliation upon Reddy. It emphasized that while individuals have the right to post on YouTube, they cannot 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 cancelled 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 issued a caution against permitting such malicious content on the platform in the future. Senior counsel V Raghavachari and advocate VS Sentil Kumar represented Reddy.
Support is pouring in for Reddy after HC ruling, applauding her resilience and triumph over online harassment
Tamil Nadu Minister for Tourism, Culture and Youth Advancement, Roja Selvamani wrote on X, " Your victory sentence a strong slap and warning for people who try to defame others!!"
Actress turned BJP leader Khusbu Sundar, applauded the HC decision and took to social media to congratulate Reddy. She wrote, "Justice delivered. A clear warning to all those who take liberty under the pretext of democracy very far. Congratulations, you have always been a winner, ma."
Entrepreneur Radhika Shashtry wrote, " Well done Apsara Reddy... your courage, grit and determination has seen a landmark judgement. May you be blessed with all good things in life. More power to you - you inspire !"
Meanwhile, Joe Michael Praveen posted an explanation on X where he wrote, " This Is Only The Ex -Parte Order Without My Knowledge. My Legal Team Has Brought This to My Notice Now And We Going FIle the Appeal !! I am Used To Face All The Allegations Against Me And Facing It Legally !! #TruthWillPrevails "