Madras High Court closes contempt proceedings against actor Suriya with a note of caution

Madras High Court
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Synopsis: The Madras High Court, having issued a caution notice and no sanction, closed the contempt proceedings against actor Suriya.

 On Friday, the Bench of the Madras High Court closed the curtains on criminal contempt proceedings sought to be initiated against Actor Suriya for criticising NEET’s action of conducting exams,  amid the pandemic.

The comments of Actor Suriya on keeping NEET in the midst of a pandemic was criminal contempt: Justice SM Subramaniam had written to Madras HC Chief Justice.

Actor Suriya
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The Court observed that Suriya’s remarks were unnecessary and unjustified, considering how, amid the pandemic, the courts continued to work and that the courts in Tamil Nadu had no opportunity to evaluate NEET’s conduct this year.

Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthil Ramamoorthy noted that the mode of working by virtual hearing during the pandemic, is the context under which the comment of the film actor has been considered to be the target of undermining the legitimacy of the Court and Judges and the commitment of the Judges to their duties. The bench observed that it should also be weighed as to whether it is legitimate criticism or a mocking remark is made.  The bench added, that is also the case of one who is said to be a philanthropist and a self-righteous citizen committed to the cause of the general public.

Six former judges encourage the Chief Justice of Madras HC not to scorn Suriya over NEET remarks.

Another aspect the Court was focusing on was the need to be accountable when making comments. For those commenting about organisations like the courts, the Court added a word of caution, while also emphasising that bringing this argument home with a sledgehammer is not on the Court’s hand.

The Court continued to express its agreement with the role assumed by Attorney General Vijay Narayan, who had previously refused to consent to the conduct of the contempt proceedings.

Notably, the Court also detailed how the State courts, including the High Court and the lower courts, had taken up and disposed of the proceedings.

Between March 26 and September 15, a total of 43,233 cases were decided by the Madras High Court, of which 25, 181 were by the Principal Seat and 17,052 were by Madurai, the order states.

The Bench emphasised that it is only disbanding those details to point out that during this pandemic the judiciary was not sitting idle and was itself on trial.

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