Judge initiates suo motu case of contempt against ‘Savukku’ Shankar

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

The Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. | Photo Credit: Ashok. R

Justice G.R. Swaminathan of the Madras High Court on Tuesday directed the Registry of the Madurai Bench to register a suo motu case of contempt against ‘Savukku’ Shankar, “a YouTuber/Blogger and a commentator on current affairs”, following a tweet he posted about the judge.

The judge directed that the statutory show cause notice be served on him as to why further action in the manner known to law should not to be taken against him. He had to appear before the court, the judge said.

The judge said Mr. Shankar had commented on many of his judgments in the most uncharitable language and the attacks had often been personal. “Since I am a strong believer in upholding freedom of speech and expression, I did not pay heed to them (comments). However, his latest tweet appears to have crossed the Lakshman rekha,” the judge said.

Justice Swaminathan said he had quashed proceedings against another YouTuber, Maridhas, and Mr. Shankar had condemned the decisions in the most vituperative words. “I genuinely felt that Mr. Shankar was entitled to pass comments on my judgments. But through the offending tweet, Mr. Shankar has questioned my integrity. He asks me ‘who I met at 6 a.m at Alagarkoil when I was hearing the case pertaining to Mr. Maridhas?’”

The judge said, “By this innuendo, Ms. Shankar is suggesting that the outcome of the Maridhas case was influenced by the person I am alleged to have met. This is clearly scandalising the judiciary. Prima facie Mr. Shankar has committed criminal contempt.” He had also poked fun at his sitting hours, the judge said.

Taking into account that Mr. Shankar was employed (drawing Subsistence Allowance) in the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, the judge said “the State government is obliged to make a statement” regarding the status of the disciplinary proceedings initiated against him.

The judge said that social media intermediaries such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube had compliance officers and their duty was to ensure that content scandalising judges and judiciary was not posted and if posted, it was taken down.

The Registry was directed to implead Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, and the judge suo motu impleaded the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology in the case. The social media compliance officers could appear through their counsel on the notified date.

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Printable version | Sep 19, 2022 1:22:04 am |