The Madras High Court on Monday closed suo motu contempt of court proceedings initiated against film producer, actor and well known owner of educational institutions Ishari K. Ganesh and another individual for attempting to influence a judge of the court in South Indian Artistes Association (popularly known as Nadigar Sangam) election case.
A Division Bench of Justices M.M. Sundresh and M. Nirmal Kumar closed the contempt petition after both the contemnors filed individual affidavits tendering unconditional apology to the court.
The judges accepted their apology as well as a voluntary offer made by the first contemnor to pay ₹10 lakh to Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority.
After holding a consultation with I. Jayanthi, Secretary, Chennai District Legal Services Authority, who was present in the court, the judges ordered that the money should be paid within two weeks and that it could be deposited in a separate bank account for the exclusive use of rehabilitation of transgenders and abandoned children.
Justice N. Anand Venkatesh of the High Court had initiated the suo motu contempt proceedings agains the duo on June 22 for attempting to influence him when he heard a case related to conduct of Nadigar Sangam polls on June 23.
Passing a detailed order for initiating the contempt proceedings against Mr. Ganesh as well as their common acquaintance Anantharaman, the judge pointed out that he was away in Vellore on June 22, a Saturday, when he received a phone call from the Registrar (Judicial) M. Jothiraman at 11.55 a.m. informing him about the Nadigar Sangam case.
The Registrar told the judge that Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani had granted permission to Nadigar Sangam counsel Krishna Ravindran to move an urgent case seeking police protection for the election to be held at St. Ebbas school in Mylapore here on Sunday.
The judge, immediately, cut short his visit to Vellore and left for Chennai.He informed the Registrar that the hearing could be fixed at 5 p.m. at his residence. Since the case had already been given a lot of hype in the media, the news regarding the time fixed for the hearing had gone viral across the State.
At 4.20 p.m., he received a phone call on his mobile from Mr. Anantharaman, who was well known to him. Therefore, the judge started the conversation in a casual manner and was taken aback when the caller at the other end broached the subject of the Nadigar Sangam case.
“He told me that Mr. Ishari K. Ganesh is interested in this case and he wants the case to be adjourned by a couple of weeks in order to ensure that the elections are not conducted on June 23, 2019 and in the meantime, something can be done to postpone the elections. This came as a bolt from the blue to me and without reacting, I disconnected the phone call,” the judge said.
Subsequently, when the judge reached home, it was about 4.45 p.m. and he noticed many police personnel and mediapersons gathered near his residence. As he was about to enter the elevator to reach his flat situated on the second floor, he saw Mr. Anantharaman who again insisted that the case be adjourned by two or three weeks.
Mr. Anantharaman also told the judge that Mr. Ganesh had done a lot of help to an organisation run by him and therefore, he was obliged to return the favour. “I immediately asked him to leave and proceeded to my house. I was later informed by my wife and son that the phone call was made to me by Mr. Anantharaman sitting inside my house.
“This in my view is a shocking state of affairs where a party interested in a litigation and who is also said to be a contestant in the election (for the post of general secretary against actor Vishal Krishna) had the audacity to approach a judge of this court and seek for a favour,” Justice Venkatesh observed.
Asserting that a criminal contempt had been committed by both the individuals on the face of the High Court, the judge directed the Registry to number the suo motu criminal contempt petition and issue statutory notices to the contemnors requiring their presence after four weeks.
He also ordered listing of the petition before a Division Bench, holding the relevant portfolio, since criminal contempt petitions could not be heard by a single judge. It was only thereafter, the Bench led by Justice Sundresh began hearing the case.
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/chennai/ishari-k-ganesh-apologises-to-high-court/article28752655.ece