Judiciary has broad shoulders to take criticism: Madras High Court quashes FIR against publisher for comments on CJI

The Court accepted the apology tendered by Seshadri on affidavit and urged him not to repeat such instances in the future.
Badri Seshadri
Badri SeshadriTwitter

The Madras High Court recently quashed a First Information Report (FIR) registered by the Tamil Nadu Police against publisher and political commentator Badri Seshadri for the allegedly provocative comments he made against the Chief Justice of India in a YouTube interview.

In an order passed on September 19, Justice N Anand Venkatesh quashed the FIR registered against Seshadri in July this year for the interview where he discussed the ongoing ethnic conflict in Manipur, and the role of the judiciary.

Justice Venkatesh said that Seshadri’s comments against the judiciary and the CJI must not be taken out of context. He further said that the judiciary had “very broad shoulders” and was thus capable of tolerating criticism that did not directly interfere with its functioning.

The Court also accepted the affidavit submitted by Seshadri where he had apologised for his comments.

“In the considered view of this Court, the judiciary has very broad shoulders to take any criticism unless the criticism results in directly interfering with the administration of justice. The petitioner might have gone overboard while making certain comments about the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. However, the comments made by the petitioner must be looked at, from the context in which such comments were made. According to the petitioner, the judiciary must not poke its nose on the functions that are exclusively within the domain of the executive. While expressing this view, the petitioner used certain expressions which were seemingly a verbal attack made on the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. In the light of the affidavit filed by the petitioner, expressing regret for the statement made by him, this Court is of the considered view that the curtains must be drawn. No useful purpose will be served in continuing with the investigation in this case,” the order stated.

The Court also warned Seshadri to be more careful while expressing himself on a public platform and urged him not to repeat such instances in the future.

Seshadri was arrested on July 29 after he said in the YouTube interview that since the Supreme Court had said that it would step in if the Central government failed to restore peace in Manipur, one might try “giving a gun” to the CJI and see if peace could be restored in the area.

He was granted bail by a local court on August 1.

Advocates MR Venkatesh and Ramaswamy Meyyappan appeared for Seshadri.

Additional Public Prosecutor A Damodaran appeared for the State government.

[Read Order]

Badrisheshathiri v State.pdf
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