“In mythology, whenever the head of an asura is slayed, another one will pop up. Savukku Shankar appears to have taken inspiration from such mythological characters,” Justice GR Swaminathan said.

A collage of Justice GR Swaminathan and YouTuber Savukku Shankar
news Court Wednesday, July 20, 2022 - 14:40

The Madras High Court has ordered suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against YouTuber and former Tamil Nadu Vigilance department official ‘Savukku’ Shankar, saying that one of his recent tweets has ‘crossed the Lakshman Rekha’. Justice GR Swaminathan said that Shankar had been “focussing his gaze on me for the last several months” and cited a particular tweet by him, where the YouTuber had implied that the judge had ‘met someone,’ allegedly to get a favourable verdict in the case against right-wing YouTuber Maridhas

“He asks me, ‘Who I met at 06.00 am at Azhagar Koil when I was hearing the case pertaining to Thiru Maridhas?’ By this innuendo, 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 (sic),” Justice Swaminathan wrote in the order. 

“I genuinely felt that Thiru Shankar was entitled to pass comments on my judgments. But through the offending tweet, Thiru Shankar has questioned my integrity,” Justice Swaminathan said in an order on Tuesday, July 19, where he directed the court registry to initiate contempt proceedings against Shankar

The judge also noted in his order that Savukku’s Twitter handle had been suspended and that he had opened another account on social media. “In mythology, whenever the head of an asura is slayed, another one will pop up. Savukku Shankar appears to have taken inspiration from such mythological characters (sic),” the judge observed in the order. 

The judge also said that it is “ironical” that Shankar, who used to work with the Tamil Nadu Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) is “said to be getting subsistence allowance for several years.” 

“A person who is getting paid by the State without doing any work has the audacity to mock at a Judge who feels he must justify every paise that he gets from the exchequer. The State government is obliged to make a statement regarding the status of the disciplinary action initiated against Thiru Savukku Shankar (sic),” Justice Swaminathan said.

The judge also wrote in the order that he had learnt of other cases being registered against Shankar, but there had been no action taken against him. 

“I came to know from an interview that a complaint of sexual harassment is pending against Thiru Savukku Shankar for more than ten years. I am also informed that even though the Madras High Court gave a direction for concluding the investigation by CBI in a case involving Thiru Savukku Shankar, nothing has transpired,” Justice Swaminathan said. 

The Madras HC judge said that it had been established by the Supreme Court that if a publication attacks individual judges or the court as a whole, with or without reference to a particular case, or if it casts unwarranted and defamatory aspersions upon the character or ability of the judges, it would amount to “scandalising the court” and therefore, amounted to contempt.

“Imputing partiality, bias or improper motives to a judge is scandalisation of the court and would be criminal contempt. Since I am prima facie satisfied that Thiru Savukku Shankar had exceeded his limits, I direct the Registry of the Madurai Bench to register a suo motu case of contempt against Thiru Savukku Shankar,” the court ordered. The court has also directed social media intermediaries like Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook to file an affidavit setting out the details of complaints received by them against Shankar and the action taken by them. “They shall also make a statement as to whether they had considered taking suo motu action to uphold and safeguard the dignity of the Indian judiciary,” the judge added in the order. 

Become a TNM Member for just Rs 999!
You can also support us with a one-time payment.