Dismissing a petition for anticipatory bail, the Madras HC had said, “Forwarding a message is equal to accepting the message and endorsing the message.”

Derogatory FB post on women journalists SC stays S Ve Shekhers arrest
news Law Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 13:44

Days after the Madras High Court denied anticipatory bail to actor-turned-politician S Ve Shekher in connection with a derogatory post about women journalists shared on his social media, the Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed his arrest till June 1.

The Tamil Nadu BJP State Secretary was booked under four sections by the Chennai Cyber Crime department last month.

On April 19, S Ve Shekher shared a Facebook post, written by his friend Thirumalai Sa, which contained derogatory comments on women in media, alleging that they had to “sleep around” for work.

The post by Thirumalai Sa was written in response to the controversy over TN governor Banwarilal Purohit patting a woman journalist’s cheek at a press meet called to address his alleged role in the sex-for-cash university scandal that has shaken Tamil Nadu. However, the headline of the post, which read ‘Madurai University, the Governor and a virgin girl’s cheek’ was S Ve Shekher’s own. He had endorsed the post with three thumbs-up emojis and four Indian flag emojis.

Following this, the Tamil Nadu Journalist Protection Welfare Association lodged a complaint with the Chennai Police Commissioner.

Shekher was booked by the Chennai Cyber Crime department under Indian Penal Code Section 504 (Intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace), Section 505 (1) (c) (Statements conducing to public mischief: Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community), Section 509 (Word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman) and Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Women Harassment Act (Penalty for harassment of woman).

Dismissing the petition for anticipatory bail, the Madras High Court had observed, “Forwarding a message is equal to accepting the message and endorsing the message.”

S Ve Shekher had apologised soon after and said that he put up the post on his timeline without actually reading it.

“Yesterday, my face book, a message, without reading the content, by mistake forwarded by me FROM THIRUMALAI Sa Was unintentional (sic),” read a statement issued by S Ve Shekher.

The statement also said that he removed the post after his friend pointed out that it was abusive. “When it was pointed out by a friend of mine that the content was abusive, it was removed immediately. I do not endorse the views expressed in it. I come from a family that respects women and journalists,” said Shekher in his statement.

However, the Madras High Court did not agree with his claims. Emphasising the social responsibility that celebrities carried, it said, “What is said is important, but who has said it is very important in a society because people respect others for their social status. When a celebrity-like person forwards messages like this, the common public will start believing that these types of things are going on. This sends a wrong message to society at a time when we are talking about women empowerment.”

Following this, S Ve Shekher had approached the Supreme Court. Hearing the case on Tuesday, the Supreme Court’s vacation bench stayed his arrest and adjourned the matter to June 1.

Also read: Poor governance, lack of implementation: Why TN fared so badly in the Swachh rankings

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