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No action against Suriya for remark on NEET
A self-righteous person should be humble enough to acknowledge the contribution of others, says HC
Bringing curtains on the controversy over a judge seeking to initiate contempt proceedings against actor Suriya over alleged derogatory comment against judges over NEET exam, the Madras High Court on Friday declined to initiate contempt proceedings against the actor but advised individuals to carefully frame their minds and express themselves to not cross the borders of any fair and just criticism.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, on agreeing with Advocate General Vijay Narayan that there was no necessity to initiate criminal proceedings against the actor, said: “It is not the job of a constitutional Court to use a sledgehammer for the avoidance of something which can be perceived to be not capable of even being propped up as a contempt, much less debated to the level of criminal contempt.”
However, the bench, on listing out statistics on the number of cases filed and disposed by the courts in the State during the pandemic and on pointing out that the judges, court staff and other stakeholders in State were themselves on trial during the pandemic and yet done their best, said:“We find that the utterances by the actor may have been absolutely unnecessary or even unwarranted, for being ignorant of how the entire judiciary of this State has served the interest of its citizens during this pandemic, and any such statement could have been avoided in a much more sober way, instead of an accusing tone, which though trivial in nature has raised a storm in a teacup.”
“A person in public life enjoys a position because of the responsibility with which he conducts himself and not by making other human activities look small for perceptibly no valid reason, but we would not say anything further, as we find that the NEET examinations and the dispute around it were not even a subject matter of the Courts in the State of Tamil Nadu,” the bench said while holding that a self-righteous person should himself be humble enough to acknowledge the contribution of others.
Also noting that any statement bereft of foundational facts might be fraught with a danger of spreading prejudices and adding to the ignorance of the public at large, the Chief Justice said: “Speculations and narratives with embellishments may be a form of advertisement but it should not be an off the cuff depiction.”
“This unnecessarily results in relentless interrogation on platforms with accusations of over-sensitiveness, even though an opinion expressed genuinely might have a grain of truth in it,” the Chief Justice added while pointing out that before a scoff or a mocking comment is made, it should also be weighed as to whether it is fair criticism or not.
The controversy arose after Justice SM Subramaniam of the High Court wrote to the Chief Justice on September 13 taking exception to the actor’s statement, “...the court, that rendered justice through video conferencing, ordered students to sit for examination without fear.”
The issue, besides kicking up a storm on the social media with many coming in support of the actor, also led to six former HC judges writing to the Chief Justice asking him not to initiate contempt proceedings as the actor was a self-righteous person and a philanthropist.
But Chief Justice Sahi, on noting that there could be hair-splitting opinions to find out the difference between an insult, unfair criticism, uninformed opinion, casual drawing-room talk, party gossip or constructive dissent, informed criticism and healthy debate against mere accusations and empty words said: “It is good to form opinions and dissents to evolve a purer thought, but trivialities should not be allowed to spread as if they were wildfire.”
“We would like to draw the curtain on these proceedings with a fond hope that the entire judicial system that fosters on the faith of the public at large should be the concern of everyone to preserve it in our endeavour to deliver justice. Here again, we would like to remind ourself of the onerous duties depicted how to dispense, what is known as justice,” Chief Justice Sahi added.