On Thursday (September 16), the Madras High Court sentenced [pdf] Youtuber Savakku Shankar to 6 months in prison for repeatedly casting aspersions on the integrity of the Judiciary.
The matter was heard by a 2-Judge Bench of Justices B Pugalendhi and GR Swaminathan. While convicting Shankar in the contempt of court case, the court noted, “We would have closed the proceedings if the contemnor had realised his mistake and sincerely apologised.”
“Far from doing so, the contemnor stuck to his position. In fact, his conduct during the last few weeks would constitute acts of contempt on their own. We consciously refrain from referring to them,” it added.
Madras HC sentences Savukku Shankar to 6 months imprisonment in the contempt petition against him. The Bench refuses to suspend the sentence on the request of contemnor.— Savukku Shankar (@Veera284) September 15, 2022
The Judges noted that Savakku Shankar was suspended from the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption in Tamil Nadu about 13 years ago and that he had been drawing a subsistence allowance from the State government every month.
“He is governed by conduct rules. Yet, he has been attacking all three organs of the State in a vicious manner…He cannot tar the entire institution with a single brush. That would be crossing the Lakshman Rekha by a long shot. It is not as if the said remark accidentally tumbled out of his mouth — it was not a slip of the tongue,” the Court said.
“It does not require a forensic mind to conclude that they are ex-facie scandalous. They denigrate and deride the institution of the judiciary,” it stated while finding Savakku Shankar guilty of contempt of court.
The Background of the case
In July this year, Savukku Shankar courted controversy after he alleged that Tamil activist Maridhas was granted bail after meeting Justice GR Swaminathan at a temple in Madurai.
“Certain Community people spit and spread Corona. This is Corona Jihad”. This is freedom of speech and expression according to GR Swaminathan and he quashed the case against Maridass,” he tweeted on July 20.
“Certain Community people spit and spread Corona. This is Corona Jihad”. This is freedom of speech and expression according to GR Swaminathan and he quashed the case against Maridass pic.twitter.com/cPXEouFWMu— Savukku Shankar (@Veera284) July 20, 2022
Following his contentious remark, the Madras High Court initiated contempt proceedings against Savukku Shankar. Justice GR Swaminathan said, “…Thiru Shankar is suggesting that the outcome of the Maridhas case was influenced by the person I am alleged to have met.”
“This is clearly scandalising the judiciary. Prima facie, Thiru Shankar had committed criminal contempt,” he emphasised. However, on July 22, Shankar again tried to cast aspersions on the integrity of the judiciary.
It was following the July 22 video that the Madras High Court took suo motu cognisance of the matter. The Judges were furious after learning that Shankar continued his tirade against the Judiciary despite two contempt of court cases.
“The contemnor has reiterated his resolve to continue his attack on the judiciary. He has gone to the extent of stating that he can be sentenced only to a maximum of six months and after coming out he will focus all his attention exclusively on judges and the judiciary,” the Madras High court had noted.
“We do not propose to quail…. There are occasions when judges have to be firm and stern. Shrugging off such provocations by stating that we possess broad shoulders would be seen as a sign of weakness,” it concluded.
It must be mentioned that the Tamil Youtuber had several run-ins with the Judiciary. In 2014, Justice Cyril Thamarai Selvam of Madras High Court ordered Savukku Shankar to block his website for defaming police officials and judges.
The Youtuber then proceeded to run several sites in the name of Justice CT Selvam, including his current website. This made the Court come to the conclusion that Shankar is a habitual offender.
Savukku Shankar made false claims about Nupur Sharma, Amit Shah
In June this year, the Tamil Youtuber falsely blamed the Union Home Ministry of endorsing the remarks on Prophet Muhammad by ex-BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma.
Fake news being spread by @savukku.— Nupur J Sharma (@UnSubtleDesi) June 6, 2022
1. The interview was days before her suspension
2. She said HMO was in touch with her about the threats she was getting (the question was what support is she getting against threats)
3. She NEVER said she was congratulated
cc @DelhiPolice pic.twitter.com/urvaKiOE0s
In an interview with Opindia, Sharma informed that the Home ministry was in touch with her following the consistent death and rape threats made by Islamists on social media.
Shankar deliberately took the words out of context and claimed that she was congratulated by Amit Shah for her remarks. He also tried to build a case against India before the Foreign Ministry of Kuwait.
Later, his Twitter account was withheld in the country following a legal complaint.