Justice SM Subramaniam, Suriya Sivakumar
Justice SM Subramaniam, Suriya Sivakumar

Actor Suriya's remarks on holding NEET amid pandemic amounts to criminal contempt: Justice SM Subramaniam writes to Madras HC Chief Justice

Suriya reportedly stated that while the fear of the pandemic led judges to function virtually, students are being ordered to write the NEET without any such fear.

Meera Emmanuel

Justice SM Subramaniam of the Madras High Court has urged Chief Justice AP Sahi to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against Tamil actor Suriya over his comments on the conduct of the National Eligibility Entrance Test (NEET) amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The September 13th letter to Chief Justice Sahi has highlighted a press statement broadcast on the Puthiya Thalaimurai TV Channel and YouTube, where Suriya is stated to have remarked that while Judges hear cases virtually due to the pandemic, students are made to write the NEET without fear.

The original statement in Tamil is stated to read as follows:

"கொரானா அச்சத்தால் உயிருக்கு பயந்து வீடியோ காண்பரன்சிங் மூலம் நீதி வழங்கும் நீதிமன்றம் மாணவர்களை அச்சமில்லாமல் போய் தேர்வு எழத வேண்டும் என்று உத்தரவிடுகிறது"

Google Translate version from Tamil to English : "Fear for life due to fear of Corona The court which administers justice through video conferencing orders students to go and write exams without fear"

Expressing disapproval over the same, Justice Subramaniam's letter states,

"The Statement reveals that the Hon'ble Judges are afraid of their own life and rendering justice through video conferencing. While-so, they have no morale to pass orders directing the students to appear for NEET Exam without fear.

The said statement in my considered opinion amounts to contempt of Court as the integrity and devotion of the Hon'ble Judges as well as the Judicial System of our Great Nation are not only undermined but criticised in a bad shape, wherein there is threat for the public confidence on the Judiciary."

The same warrants criminal contempt action to uphold the Majesty of our Indian Judicial System, Justice Subramaniam further writes.

Criminal contempt proceedings sought to be launched by individuals ordinarily require the Advocate General's consent in case of High Court proceedings and the Attorney General's consent in case of Supreme Court proceedings. However, it remains to be seen how Justice Subramaniam's letter will play out.

Speaking to Bar & Bench, Advocate General for Tamil Nadu Vijay Narayan said,

"To my knowledge, nobody has filed a petition. In criminal contempt, the AG's consent is sought. But that does not bar the court from initiating contempt suo motu. From what I read in the newspapers, it is only a letter written to the Chief Justice. I do not know what the Chief intends to do with it."

After petitions filed before the Supreme Court seeking postponement of the NEET failed to yield relief, the exam was finally conducted on Sunday at various test centres across the country.

Letter written by Suriya which is in the center of contempt issue

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news