The Kerala High Court on Tuesday denied anticipatory bail to a Youtuber accused of making disparaging remarks against a members of the Scheduled Tribes, Bar and Bench reported.

The abuses insults hurled on an online platform will be covered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as a person’s digital presence matters, the court added.

The Act was enacted to prevent atrocities and hate crimes against members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled tribes communities.

On Tuesday, the court gave the verdict on a petition filed by Sooraj Sukumar, the managing director of True TV online news portal. He had posted an interview of the husband and father-in-law of a woman who had accused journalist TP Nandakumar of verbally abusing her.

The woman claimed that Nandakumar had forced her to make a morphed video of a woman minister in Kerala, Live Law reported.

Nandakumar, the editor of the Crime Magazine, was arrested on June 17 and the High Court granted him bail on July 21.

According to the police, Sukumar insulted the woman’s husband and her father-in-law – both members of a Scheduled Tribe – and spewed hatred against them during the interview. The interview was reportedly posted on YouTube as well as Facebook.

The police alleged that Sukumar was provoked by the arrest of fellow mediaperson Nandakumar. After a first information report was registered against Sukumar, he approached the High Court for pre-arrest bail.

Babu S Nair, representing Sukumar, argued that the case could not attract offences under Sections 3(1)(r) and 3(1)(s) of the Atrocities Act, as the alleged insult must take place in the presence of the victim.

Nair claimed that as the woman was not present during the interview, the Atrocities Act could not be invoked against his client.

Public prosecutor Noushad KA argued that pre-arrest bail can only be given to an accused person under the Act when there is no prima facie case against the person.

Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas held that the digital presence of the victim through the internet was sufficient to be considered a “public view” under the Atrocities Act.

“The words used by the petitioner in the interview are prima facie insulting, humiliating and abusive, made with the knowledge that the victim belongs to a Scheduled Tribe community,” the court said. “The interview uploaded by the petitioner is an affront to women and the victim in particular.”