The Madras High Court on Friday said that actor Suriya’s comments on the court in connection with the death by suicide of several National Eligibility-cum-Entrance Test candidates was “unnecessary and unwarranted”, but added that there will be no contempt proceedings, NDTV reported.
“The utterances by the cine actor are unnecessary and unwarranted for being ignorant of the manner in which the entire judiciary of this state has served the interest of the citizens,” the court said in its verdict.
Suriya had said on September 13 that though courts were ordering students to write exams fearlessly, the judges themselves were hearing cases via video conference amid the pandemic. Speaking about the suicides, he had said that parents suffered after losing their children to “an unfair system of tests”. Last week, five candidates who were to appear for the NEET died by suicide in Tamil Nadu.
Subsequently, Justice SM Balasubramaniam wrote to Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi, calling Suriya’s statements contempt of court. “The statement reveals that the Hon’ble Judges are afraid of their own life and rendering justice through video conferencing,” he reportedly wrote, adding that Suriya said: “While so, they have no morale to pass orders directing the students to appear for NEET Exam without fear.” However, it appeared that the judge’s translation from Tamil was incorrect in the copy circulated to the media. The words “morale” and “while so” did not appear in Suriya’s statement.
The court in its order said it was not the job of a constitutional court “to use a sledgehammer for avoidance of something which can be perceived to be not capable of even being propped up as a contempt, much less debated to the level of a criminal contempt”, according to The News Minute. “This matter, therefore, in our judicious discretion does not deserve to be pursued further.”
Six retired Madras High Court judges and 25 lawyers had on September 14 requested Sahi not to initiate contempt proceedings against Suriya. The judges said that the judiciary should show “generosity and magnanimity” by not taking note of the actor’s statement and staying away from unnecessary controversies. They also spoke of the charitable work done by the actor and said that he had helped hundreds of students with their education and jobs.