Explained: Why Madras HC has sent a second contempt notice to 'Savukku' Shankar

Shankar is already facing a contempt case for his remarks against the judiciary. On Thursday, the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court issued him another notice.
Savukku Shankar, YouTuber and former DVAC employee
Savukku Shankar, YouTuber and former DVAC employee
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The Madras High Court on Thursday, August 4, ordered a contempt notice against YouTuber 'Savukku' Shankar, who is already facing criminal contempt proceedings for his remarks against the judiciary. The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, comprising Justice GR Swaminathan and Justice B Pugalendhi issued a show cause notice to Shankar to explain why contempt proceedings should not be initiated against him for saying that “the entire higher judiciary is riddled with corruption” on the YouTube Channel Red Pix on July 22. 

What was the first notice against Savukku?

Justice GR Swaminathan had earlier ordered criminal contempt proceedings against Savukku Shankar for his comments against the judge and the judiciary, and the matter came up for hearing on Thursday. Shankar had implied in one of his tweets that Justice GR Swaminathan had ‘met someone,’ allegedly to get a favourable verdict against Maridhas, who was arrested for his tweet against the DMK government in Tamil Nadu. “Sir, you can ask me anything. Do not speak in court. Whom did you meet at 6 am in Alagar temple while investigating Maridas’ case?” Shankar had said in his tweet, which is now inaccessible as his account has been withheld in India.

What is the second notice about?

While hearing the first contempt petition case, the judge issued a second contempt notice against the YouTuber. The judge noted that on July 22, three days after the first contempt case was filed against him, Shankar had made the comment, “The entire higher judiciary is riddled with corruption,” on his YouTube Channel, Red Pix.

“Issue notice to Thiru.Shankar @ 'Savukku' Shankar to show cause as to why proceedings for criminal contempt should not be initiated against him,” the court said in its brief order on August 4.   

What happened to the hearing of the first notice?

Justice Swaminathan himself heard the case and said that Shankar makes ‘harsh remarks’ against the judiciary and that he has made some ‘untruthful comments about me and my judgments over the past few months.’

On Thursday, Justice Swaminathan said Shankar made harsh remarks against his order where he quashed two cases against YouTuber Maridhas, after considering Maridhas’s plea. “He (Shankar) has the right to comment on my judgments but has called my integrity into question with his hurtful comments,” Justice Swaminathan said on Thursday. 

What other questions did the judge raise?

The bench has questioned the salary being paid to Shankar, who is currently on suspension from his job as an employee of the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (DVAC) in Tamil Nadu. The bench was informed that Shankar is getting a subsistence allowance of around Rs 43,000 per month, and approximately Rs 65 lakh has been provided by the government over the past 13 years in instalments.

Why is ‘Savukku’ Shankar facing a contempt case?

The Madras High Court had last month ordered suo motu criminal contempt proceedings against Shankar, saying that his recent tweets ‘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 6 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 had written in the order. 

The judge had also said that though Shankar’s Twitter account was suspended in view of a legal demand, he made another account and had been making comments against the judiciary there. “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 had observed in the order. 

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