Film references in judgment set wrong precedent, says DMK MP

MP Senthilkumar took a swipe at the judiciary for alluding to films in judgments and for being partial. He was speaking on a multitude of topics, including the judiciary, National Education Policy, Republic Day parade, in the Parliament.
Dharmapuri MP Senthilkumar
Dharmapuri MP Senthilkumar
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Criticising the appearance of film references in court judgments, DMK MP Dr Senthilkumar questioned whether law students should now watch films to study judgments. Raising the issue in the Parliament on Thursday February 3, the Dharmapuri MP said, “Recently, we see judges quoting references from Hindi films and Tamil films while giving verdicts. Now, we see college students going to libraries. Does this government want them to go to film/video libraries and OTT platforms to search for judgments?”

The MP was speaking on a multitude of topics in the Parliament, including judiciary, National Education Policy, Republic Day parade. Speaking about the judiciary, he said that judges pronounced verdicts based upon the Constitution, law and amendments, and said using film references in the verdicts would set a wrong precedent for law students.

It may be noted that a few film references made their way into the recent order passed by the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court while transferring the case of 17-year-old Lavanya, a Thanjavur student who died by suicide, to the CBI. In the said order, two films are referred to, along with references from the Bible and literary reviews. One is Hindi film Serious Men and the other is Tamil film Kalyana Agathigal.

The order reads: “Nawazuddin Siddiqui starrer “Serious Men” is about the life of Ayyan Mani, a Tamil Dalit settled in Mumbai. In the movie, one comes across the following dialogue between Ayyan Mani and the Principal of a Christian School”, and the scene between the characters is mentioned, where the principal is seen trying to convince Ayyan to convert to Christianity.

Further, referring to the Tamil film, the order states: “The legendary K Balachander's “Kalyana Agathigal” is a story about Ammulu, a devout Hindu girl who falls in love with Robert. Robert’s parents are ready to accept Ammulu as their daughter-in-law if she is ready to accept Christ and become Emily. When Ammulu refuses to convert, an outraged Robert reminds her that his family never demanded dowry but merely wants her to accept their religion. “Instead of money, you are asking me to give up my religion. Isn't this a form of dowry too?” she retorts. When Robert issued her an ultimatum, Ammulu in a stirring dialogue proclaimed her loyalty to the religion of her birth and walked out of the relationship.”

The order also reads, “One may wonder if in a judgment of a constitutional court, there should be references to popular culture. It is beyond dispute that Art reflects life. While movies, particularly, Tamil movies are notorious for melodrama and exaggeration, they do contain a kernel of truth."

The MP also criticised the judiciary saying, “A few years back, we saw two judges of a particular caste go and attend a caste based conference. And they had been invited because of their status as judges of the High Court as chief guests. And more recently, a particular judge was approached by a particular political party for bail and for transfer of cases to CBI, whereas the basic prayer of the client itself was just to seek a CBCID probe”, he said.

Starting his speech by referring to President Ram Nath Kovind quoting Thirukkural in his address to the Parliament, the MP said that Thirukkural simply translates to ‘stand by what you learn’. “The question is does the government stand by the ideals of the Constitution by its founding fathers?” he asked.

Quoting Ambedkar on democracy being not merely a form of government, but an attitude of respect and reverence towards one's fellow man, the MP said that the reality did not substantiate these ideals and that India’s status has downgraded from free country to partly-free country. “This respect and reverence is something unknown to this government, which was displayed brazenly during the peaceful protests against the farm laws”.

On the President's reference to freedom fighter Babu Chidambaram, the MP said no tableau or floats were displayed with freedom fighters Babu Chidambaram, Velu Nachiyar and Mahakavi Bharathiyar. “Despite the fact that we have great freedom fighters, we saw squirrels, the body of a cow and the human head and men clad in saffrons, being paraded on Republic Day. This hurt the sentiments of the Tamil people. But this pride was restored by our Chief Minister MK Stalin, by showcasing the Tamil freedom fighters in the tableau in Tamil Nadu”, he said.

Watch MP’s full speech here:

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