Actor Suriya had on September 13 put out a letter condemning the NEET exam.

Madras HC not to initiate contempt proceedings against actor Suriya for NEET remarks
news NEET Friday, September 18, 2020 - 13:05

The Principal Bench of the Madras High Court did not initiate contempt proceedings against actor Suriya for his comments against the judiciary in the country. The actor had criticised the judiciary in his recently released statement on the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET). 

A bench consisting of Chief Justice AP Sahi rejected Justice SM Subramaniam’s request to initiate contempt proceedings against the actor for his comments. Justice SM Subramaniam had justified his demand to initiate contempt proceedings against Suriya as the actor’s statements criticised judges and the judicial system of India and added that he had seen the actor’s statement on TV and YouTube. Justice SM Subramaniam was referring to Suriya’s comment around the functioning of the courts during COVID-19 pandemic. Suriya had taken a dig at the judiciary, noting that while judges appear via video-conferencing due to fears of infection, courts are telling students to be fearless and appear for the exams in person.

Asking Suriya to consider his words before speaking, the HC said, “A statement made in exuberance may bring about a trial and, therefore, in view of the peculiar status on which this institution is pedestalled under the Constitution, it would be prudent on the part of the individuals to carefully frame their minds and express themselves that may not cross the borders of any fair and just criticism.”

The court further criticised Suriya and said, "Drawing support from what we have expressed herein above, we find that the utterances by the cine actor may have been absolutely unnecessary or even unwarranted, for being ignorant of the manner in which the entire judiciary of this State has served the interest of its citizens during this pandemic, and any such statement could have been avoided in a much more sober way, instead of an accusing tone, which though trivial in nature has raised a storm in a tea cup."

The court, however, noted that Suriya’s remarks neither amount to contempt nor to the level of criminal contempt. “On the other hand, it is not the job of a constitutional Court to use a sledgehammer for avoidance of something which can be perceived to be not capable of even being propped up as a contempt, much less debated to the level of a criminal contempt,” the order said. "This matter, therefore, in our judicious discretion does not deserve to be pursued further and we entirely agree with the opinion expressed by the learned Advocate General.," the court added.

Justice SM Subramaniam, in his letter seeking contempt proceedings, had said, “The Statement reveals that the Hon'ble Judges are afraid of their own life and rendering justice through video conferencing. While-so, they have no morale to pass orders directing the students to appear for NEET Exam without fear.”

Actor Suriya had on September 13 put out a letter condemning the NEET exam. His letter came following reports of three NEET aspirants dying by suicide just a day before the exam was held on Sunday. Calling such exams ‘Manu Dharma tests’ Suriya had written, “Manuneethi exams’ like the NEET not only snatch the opportunities of our students, but also end up killing them. It becomes a life sentence for parents who lose their children to the unfair system of examinations. It is important for the parents and teachers to be vigilant in an education system that does not care even the slightest about students’ welfare.”

Suriya who runs Agaram Trust, a welfare institution that supports the education of students coming from difficult backgrounds, also added, “NEET has killed three students in a day. What happened today, happened yesterday. It will happen tomorrow as well. This will continue to happen if we are not vigilant. We should not be silent spectators to the deaths of innocent students. Let us raise our voices, as a society, against NEET which sets fire to the medical aspirations of students from ordinary families.”

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