Madras HC judge takes suo motu contempt against activist for tweet against him | Latest News India

Justice GR Swaminathan of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Wednesday sued activist A Shankar, popularly known as ‘Savukku’ Shankar, for criminal contempt of court for his tweets against him and court orders.

The tweet in question suggests that the judge was impressed when he quashed a First Information Report (FIR) against controversial YouTuber M Maridas in December 2021.

In his tweet, Shankar questioned who the justice met at 6 am at the Alagar temple while investigating the Maridas case. “By this suggestion, Thiru.Shankar is suggesting that the outcome of the Maridhas case was influenced by the person I met. It is clearly insulting the Judiciary. Justice Swaminathan said that Pradhan Mukhena Thiru.Shankar has committed criminal contempt.

He believed in freedom of speech and expression but Shankar had crossed the ‘Laxman Rekha’ this time, the judge said. Swaminathan said that while he sincerely hoped Shankar could pass any comments on his judgments, his latest tweet questioned his integrity by using bad words.

“He has been unrepentant in his attacks on individuals and institutions, including the judiciary. Even though scathing criticism is permissible, defamatory abuse is not,” Justice Swaminathan said. “For the last several months, he has been focusing his sights on me. He has commented on many of my judgments in very uncharacteristic language. His attacks are mostly are personal. Being a strong believer in upholding freedom of speech and expression, I paid no heed to them. However, his latest tweet seems to have crossed the Lakshmana line,” he added. The court transcript includes screenshots of Shankar’s tweets.

The court noted that Shankar is a YouTuber, blogger and current affairs commentator who regularly gives interviews to various channels on social media. Maridas is also a famous YouTuber. The judge said applications to quash two criminal cases against Maridhas were filed and the case came to his bench as he holds the relevant roster. A case was registered against Maridhas for tweeting that Dravida Munnetra Kalagam (DMK)-ruled Tamil Nadu would soon turn into another Kashmir. “After hearing the State and the de facto complainants, I quash the proceedings,” the judge said.

Shankar was a former clerk in Tamil Nadu’s Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC). He was arrested by the then DMK government in 2008 for leaking audio tapes of two top officials. After his release, he turned whistle-blower. He started a website in 2009 called Savukku, which means whip, where he exposes corruption and writes about government officials, politicians, journalists, lawyers and high court judges. Among his leaks are tapes related to the sensitive 2G spectrum allocation scandal.

Justice Swaminathan said it was ironic that Shankar was still getting subsistence allowance from DVAC. “A person who is being paid by the state without doing any work has the audacity to mock the judge,” he said. “Thiru Shankar was joking while I was sitting.”

The judge defended himself saying that he has completed five years as a judge of the Madras High Court and has disposed of a total of 70,014 cases from 2017 to June 24, 2022. He said that he will sit in the court from 9.30 am till the end of the court session. “For the salary I got and the prerequisites I went through, I believe I worked to the fullest.”

The judge said that he was taking judicial notice of the recent suspension of Savukku Shankar’s Twitter account. “But they have managed to create an alternative account. In the Puranas, when an asura’s head is slaughtered, another pops up. Thiru.Savukku Shankar seems inspired by such legendary characters,” he said. He said that intermediaries like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube may have received several complaints against Shankar and it is their duty to ensure that scandalous content of judges and judiciary is not posted and to remove content already posted.

The justice recalled that a sexual harassment case was pending against Shankar for more than 10 years and he was told that nothing happened in the case being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Leave a Comment