The Madras high court on Friday declined to initiate any contempt proceedings against actor Suriya for his remarks against the Supreme Court in permitting NEET during the Covid-19 pandemic. .

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Suriya’s NEET comment: Madras HC won’t initiate contempt proceedings against actor but makes these remarks
Sureshkumar | Sep 18, 2020, 13:51 IST
Actor Suriya
CHENNAI: The Madras high court on Friday declined to initiate any contempt proceedings against actor Suriya for his remarks against the Supreme Court in permitting NEET during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The first bench of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy said they entirely agree with the opinion of the advocate general Vijay Narayan in denying consent to initiate criminal contempt of court proceedings against the actor.

The AG’s consent is required under the Contempt of Court Act though courts have powers to initiate suo motu contempt.
“The background in which the statement of the actor has been taken to be a subject matter of undermining the authority of the court and judges and devotion of judges towards their duty, in their mode of functioning through virtual hearing during the pandemic, which may be a sneer, but before a scoff or a mocking comment is made, it should also be weighed as to whether it is fair criticism or not,” the court said.
This too at the instance of one who is stated to be a philanthropist and a self-righteous person dedicated to the cause of the public at large, the bench added.
Asserting that freedom of speech to call a spade a spade and to exercise free unrestrained speech are two different dimensions, the court said, “The right to freedom of speech that includes fair criticism is guaranteed under the Indian Constitution. But the same Constitution also protects and insulates judicial governance from insidious and derogatory comments under Article 215 and the laws made thereunder.”
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Adding that the court had perused the contents of the statement of the actor disclosed in the letter of Justice S M Subramaniam and his opinion, as also the other letters, the judges said a language, which might be perfectly proper if uttered in a temperate manner, may be grossly improper if uttered in a different manner.
“What may appear to be disrespectful may also be short of insult and may be touching the borders of criticism. A reasonable precaution has to be taken in matters of public affairs, particularly courts, judges and their functioning, where fair and temperate criticism should not be contemptuous,” they said.

“We would like to draw the curtain on these proceedings with a fond hope that the entire judicial system that fosters on the faith of the public at large should be the concern of everyone to preserve it in our endeavour to deliver justice. Here again, we would like to remind our self of the onerous duties depicted in how to dispense, what is known as justice,” the court concluded.

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