Two weeks after actor and BJP functionary S Ve Shekher moved the Madras High Court seeking anticipatory bail in connection to a derogatory post about women journalists shared on his social media, the court has dismissed his petition. Justice S Ramathilagam further directed the police to carry out investigations as they would in the case of a common man.
Shekher had approached the court in April seeking advance bail in a case booked by the Cyber Crime Cell of the Central Crime Branch in Chennai. He had shared a post on his Facebook page on April 19 which alleged women journalists 'sleep around to get top posts'. The post titled 'Madurai University, Governor and virgin woman’s cheeks' came after a female correspondent of an English magazine accused the Governor of Tamil Nadu, Banwarilal Purohit, of inappropriate behaviour. The journalist lodged a complaint against Shekher with the Central Crime Branch on April 20.
Shekher was booked under 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) of the Indian Penal Code .
Shekher then approached the court, seeking anticipatory bail. He claimed in his affidavit that he shared the Facebook post inadvertently, without reading it first.
“It has put me to mental anguish and I am totally upset. I don’t endorse the views expressed in the said message, since I am also from a family that respects women and women journalists,” he had reportedly said.
On May 3, the court reserved orders on the anticipatory bail and questioned why the police were biased in taking action against the BJP functionary.
The Facebook post
Without naming the woman journalist in the incident, the post that the actor shared read: "I feel pity while looking at that woman journalist. She claims she was disturbed because the governor touched her. But when you read her tweets, it is understood that her intention was to target the Governor and Modi. It is actually the governor who has to wash his hands with Phenoyl after touching her. These (TN media persons) are cheap and disgusting creatures. Most people who work in the media in TN are usually Illiterate, cheap and don't have any general knowledge. This woman is not any different."
The post also went on to accuse all women journalists in Tamil Nadu of sleeping around. "Recently this disgusting fact has come out through complaints that women cannot become reporters or anchors unless they sleep with top bosses. And with these faces, they come out to ask questions to the governor," the post stated.
The post was deleted following the furore it sparked, but not before several members of the media fraternity took to Twitter to condemn the post and Shekher.