Sharing news article critical of Prime Minister cannot make advocate unsuitable for judgeship, says Supreme Court Collegium

The Collegium reiterates its February 2022 recommendation to elevate advocate R. John Sathyan as judge of Madras High Court

Updated - January 20, 2023 12:53 pm IST

Published - January 19, 2023 09:28 pm IST - CHENNAI

R. John Sathyan. Photo: Twitter/@advocatesathyan

R. John Sathyan. Photo: Twitter/@advocatesathyan

The Supreme Court collegium has observed that an advocate will not become unsuitable for judgeship just because he had shared on the social media a news article critical of the Prime Minister besides having expressed his opinion regarding the suicide of a medical aspirant due to her inability to secure a seat despite scoring well in Plus Two examinations.

The collegium comprising Chief Justice of India D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice K.M. Joseph made the observation while reiterating a recommendation made by the previous collegium on February 16, 2022 to elevate advocate R. John Sathyan (now a designated Senior Advocate) as a judge of the Madras High Court.

A statement issued by the Supreme Court regarding the recent collegium meeting held on Tuesday read that the said recommendation was made after all consultee judges — including Justices Kaul and Indira Banerjee (since retired), V. Ramasubramanian and M.M. Sundresh — who had served in Madras High Court had found Mr. Sathyan suitable for elevation.

The Intelligence Bureau (IB) report too stated that he enjoyed a good personal and professional image and that nothing adverse had come to notice against his integrity. The report noted that he did not have any overt political leanings. The only adverse comment in the report was with respect to certain acts committed by him in the social media.

“In this backdrop... sharing a news article and another post regarding suicide by a medical aspirant (S. Anitha) in 2017 will not impinge on the suitability, character or integrity of Shri Sathyan. In this view, the collegium is of the considered opinion that Shri R. John Sathyan is fit and suitable for being appointed as a Judge of the Madras High Court,” the collegium said.

It recommended that his name be considered for elevation in precedence over eight other names, including five advocates and three judicial officers, which had been approved by the present collegium for elevation as judges of the same High Court. The five advocates were V. Lakshminarayanan, L.C. Victoria Gowri, P.B. Balaji, R. Neelakandan and K.K. Ramakrishnan.

The judicial officers who had figures in the recommended list include P. Vadamalai, R. Kalaimathi and K.G. Thilakavadi.

(Assistance for overcoming suicidal thoughts is available on the State’s health helpline 104, Tele-MANAS 14416 and Sneha’s suicide prevention helpline 044-24640050. Those in distress could also seek help and counselling by calling helplines from this link.)

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