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The Madras High Court today recorded the unconditional apology tendered by educationist and business magnate Ishari Ganesh and one Ananthraman, in the contempt case initiated by Justice Anand Venkatesh last month. Ganesh was accused of having attempted to influence the course of the verdict in the Nadigar Sangam elections case.
The High Court Bench of Justices MM Sundaresh and M Nirmal Kumar had earlier directed the contemnors to file their reply in the matter by today. Appearing for the contemnor, Senior Advocates ARL Sundaresan and Satish Parasaran informed the Court that their affidavits have been filed.
The Bench orally observed that it will have to treat the matter seriously, since it has been initiated by a judge. During the course of the brief hearing, the Court took note of the apology tendered by the contemnors and their willingness to make a voluntary donation for a cause.
Whereas Parasaran pointed out that the Delhi High Court has been following a trend of ordering the plantation of trees as compensation, Justice Sundaresh observed that it may be difficult to maintain the saplings once they have been planted. In lighter vein, Justice Nirmal Kumar opined that it could be added as an additional condition (apart from a monetary payment).
After a short discussion, Justice Sundaresh eventually opined that the donation may be made to benefit transgender persons and abandoned children. While it was suggested that a sum of Rs 5 lakh may be made towards the same, the Bench remarked that the amount could be made Rs 10 lakh.
Accordingly, the Court has recorded that a sum of Rs 10 lakh be paid for the welfare of transgender persons and abandoned children. The deposit is to be made within two weeks, the Bench added.
The contempt case was initiated last month by Justice Anand Venkatesh after Ananthraman made repeated attempts to influence the judge to adjourn proceedings in the Nadigar Sangam elections case, while it had been listed urgently for a special sitting on Saturday. The judge was told that the request was made on the behalf of Ishari Ganesh, who had wanted to ensure that the elections to the South Indian drama artisits association was not conducted on a certain date.
As noted in the order passed by Justice Venkatesh when he initiated the criminal contempt proceedings,
“…[Anantharaman] told me that Mr. Ishari K. Ganesh is interested in this case and he wants the case to be adjourned by a couple of weeks in order to ensure that the elections are not conducted on June 23, 2019 and in the meantime, something can be done to postpone the elections. This came as a bolt from the blue to me and without reacting, I disconnected the phone call.”
Justice Venkatesh therefore directed that a contempt of court case be registered by the High Court while observing,
“This in my view is a shocking state of affairs where a party interested in a litigation and who is also said to be a contestant in the election (for the post of general secretary against actor Vishal Krishna) had the audacity to approach a judge of this court and seek for a favour…
…The act on the face of it amounts to interfering with the due course of the judicial proceedings and tends to obstruct the administration of justice and thereby is a criminal contempt of the Court.”
Ishari Ganesh is a the founder of the Vels Educational Trust. He also serves as Chairman and Vice Chancellor of the Vels University, Chennai.