Bharatiya Janata Party leader H Raja on Tuesday said that a division bench of the Madras High Court had no locus standi to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against him and that only the chief justice had such powers, reported PTI.

Raja was responding to the contempt proceedings initiated against him by a division bench of Justices CT Selvam and Nirmal Kumar on September 17 after he allegedly used derogatory words to describe the police and the judiciary. The bench had also issued a statutory notice to him and ordered him to appear before it on October 22.

“Only the chief justice has to decide whether to take suo motu or not,” said advocate KS Dinakaran, appearing on Raja’s behalf before a bench of Chief Justice VK Thahilramani and Justice M Duraiswamy. “The bench headed by Justice CT Selvam has no loco standi to take suo motu.”

Dinakaran said several court judgements show that other benches are allowed to place the documents before chief justices for their consideration on the suo motu matter. Chief Justice Thahilramani said she would examine the matter, and asked Dinakaran to submit such judgements as evidence.

The Tamil Nadu Police on September 16 filed a case against Raja, a day after he called the force “anti-Hindu” when they stopped him from taking a communally-sensitive route during a Ganesha idol immersion procession in Pudukottai district. He accused the police of being corrupt and made derogatory remarks against the High Court when the police showed him a court order.

On September 19, several officials from a Tamil Nadu government department filed another complaint against Raja for making derogatory remarks against their family members. A similar complaint was also filed in Tiruppur. At a meeting in Dindigul district’s Vedachandur, Raja had allegedly called officials of the Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowments department corrupt and said it was equivalent to selling their womenfolk for money.

The employees had also urged Chennai Police Commissioner AK Viswanathan to file a case against Raja for calling them Maoists and anti-nationals. They have also planned a hunger strike on September 27 to condemn Raja’s speech.