The Madras High Court on Monday initiated suo motu criminal contempt of court proceedings against BJP national secretary H. Raja for his recent “scandalous conduct” of having reportedly used derogatory words against the High Court.
A Division Bench of Justices C.T. Selvam and M. Nirmal Kumar invoked the power conferred on the High Court under Article 215 of the Constitution, to punish for contempt of itself, and ordered issue of statutory notice to the contemnor requiring his personal appearance before the court on October 22.
The Bench took note of a video clip of Mr. Raja shot during Vinayaka Chathurthi celebrations within the Tirumayam police station limits in Pudukottai district on Saturday. In the footage, Mr. Raja could be seen picking up a quarrel with the police for citing High Court orders to deny permission for the erection of a dais in a public place.
Stating that the video was being circulated across the globe through the social media, the judges said, “We judges are but cogwheels in the administration of justice till we have done our time and wane away. It is the majesty of this institution, the honourable superior court and courts below which is paramount and it is this that we seek to uphold.”
The court added: “The judiciary is held in high esteem by all right-thinking people. It holds its head high by virtue of its numerous decisions both of old and of new and has held aloft the flag of justice. Any attempt at creating a dent in this most revered pillar of our democratic system could lead to promotion of fascism, naxalism and all that is opposed to democracy.”
Conscious of several questions that could be raised against them for having initiated the present suo motu contempt proceedings, the judges went on to say: “Let us be told that this court will not take cognisance of newspaper reports and video clippings in wide circulation in the social media.
“Let us be told that initiation of action in criminal contempt is reserved for a particular Bench of this court, and hence, other Benches in the face of objectionable, scandalous material, would not move against the contemnor.
“Let us be told that exercise of contempt jurisdiction is one of rarity and that legal niceties, procedural technicalities and judicial politeness would deter courts from acting against the contemnor.” They brushed aside all these questions and said that their only intention was to uphold the majesty of the judiciary.
The judges also took note of the contemnor’s statement to the media that the voice in the video clip was not his and that the clip had been edited to bring disrepute to him. However, they said: “While it is the order of day to deny one’s signature, let us be told that it is also the order of the day to allow one to escape action by denying his voice!
“Let us be told that the offending action has taken place within Pudukottai district, and therefore, it is the Madurai Bench [of the High Court], which has jurisdiction and not this Principal Bench despite the offending material being circulated throughout the State, the country and the world at large!”
Though the Tirumayam police had already booked a criminal case against Mr. Raja, the judges said such action need not make the court to fold its hands and hope that a fair investigation would be conducted instead of the “frequent and usual course of withdrawal of the case by the State after things are forgotten and then forgiven.”
Earlier in the day, a Division Bench led by Justice Huluvadi G. Ramesh had refused to initiate suo motu contempt proceedings against the BJP leader despite a battery of lawyers including Madras High Court Advocates Association vice-president R. Sudha and advocate C. Rajashekaran making a mention before him.
The lawyers had approached the second Division Bench led by Mr. Justice Ramesh because Chief Justice Vijaya Kamlesh Tahilramani was on leave on Monday. In the afternoon, a section of lawyers staged a demonstration outside the High Court campus condemning the BJP leader for his reported remarks against the court.
Article source: https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/madras-high-court-moves-against-bjp-leader-raja/article24973558.ece