RS Bharathi, Madras HC
RS Bharathi, Madras HC
Litigation News

Leaders should know their responsibility, not create disharmony: Madras HC's cautionary note while junking plea to cancel RS Bharathi's bail

An SC/ST Act case was lodged against the Rajya Sabha MP on allegations that he had said that certain lower caste High Court Judges were appointed only because of "alms rendered" by former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

Meera Emmanuel

The Madras High Court on Tuesday dismissed the State's plea to cancel bail granted to DMK organising secretary and Rajya Sabha Member, RS Bharathi in connection with the SC/ST case registered against him remarks allegedly made against lower caste High Court judges (State v. RS Bharathi and anr).

However, while passing the order Justice N Sathish Kumar also sounded a note of caution that persons holding high office should be circumspect to avoid making remarks that may create disharmony among citizens.

"... this Court is also like to place on record that persons who are holding high office like accused who is not only senior member of the Bar and Member of Rajya Sabha and belong to political party and have several followers to follow him, he should show restraint while making any such remarks. Whether or not such remarks amount to offence or humiliation, such remarks should not lead to give an impression that same offends any section of society."
Madras High Court

The Court added,

"... the leaders who are in public life not only have responsibility but also constitutional duty to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities; to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. They should know their responsibility, while addressing the gathering any utterance should not lead to create disharmony among the citizens of the country. "

The case concerned certain statements alleged to have been made by Bharathi in a political meeting held in February this year.

As per the complainant, Bharathi had stated that former High Court Judge, late Justice A Varadharajan and "7 or 9 other judges from the lower caste" had become judges only because of "alms rendered" by former Chief Minister M Karunanidhi.

A FIR was lodged over the speech in March 2020 citing provisions of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Bharathi was arrested by the police on May 23. He was subsequently granted interim bail. After a challenge to this interim bail was dismissed by the Madras High Court, Bharathi was also eventually granted regular bail on June 1.

The High Court has now dismissed a challenge to the June 1 order, finding that no case has been made out for the cancellation of bail or to do away with the principle that "jail is a rule and bail is an exception.

In this regard, the Court also rejected a contention by the State that the SC/ST Act offence should be viewed more seriously given that the provision of anticipatory bail has been taken away from the Act.

"Such contention cannot be countenanced", the Court said, adding that it will lead to serious consequences.

"Mere tougher law and stringent legislations will not relieve the State from establishing the charges as per law. Every accused is presumed to be innocence till the guilt is proved. Therefore, the contention that jail is a rule and bail is an exception is accepted, then, it will not only infringe fundamental rights of the citizen but also will have serious consequences."
Madras High Court

Justice Kumar proceeded to dismiss the plea to cancel Bharathi's bail, holding that,

"The power of cancellation of bail must be exercised with care and circumspection. Only when there are cogent and overwhelming circumstances shown by the prosecution, normally the cancellation of the bail will be ordered. Since the cancellation of the bail jeopardise the personal liberty of the person the cancellation cannot be made in routine manner."

During the course of the order, the judge also clarified that it is not expressing its views on the merits of the case, which must be discerned at the stage trial.

Additional Public Prosectuor K Prabhaharan appeared for the State. The de facto complainant was represented by Senior Counsel V Raghavachari. Senior Counsel R Shunmugasundaram appeared for the RS Bharathi.

Read the order:

State v. RS Bharathi and anr - Madras HC order - June 23.pdf
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