‘Savukku’ Shankar case: Madras HC judge says Justice Swaminathan passed order hastily

The third judge appointed after the division bench passed a split verdict in the habeas corpus plea by ‘Savukku’ Shankar’s mother said it suffers “incompleteness.”
Madras High Court
Madras High CourtRepresentative image
Written by:

Justice G Jayachandran of the Madras High Court observed that there was no two conflicting views to resolve through reference to a third judge in the habeas corpus plea filed by YouTuber ‘Savukku’ Shankar’s mother and ordered that the case be heard afresh by a bench that deals with habeas corpus pleas. Jayachandran was appointed as the third judge in the case by the Acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan, after the division bench passed a split verdict. The judge also said that the split verdict passed in the case “suffers incompleteness”.

The case pertains to the habeas corpus petition filed by Shankar’s mother Kamala. In her plea, she alleged that “certain government authorities” and the “present ruling party” had acted together to wreak vengeance against Shankar. The case came up before a vacation bench of Justices GR Swaminathan and PB Balaji, and they passed a split verdict, with the former quashing the detention order and the latter stating that the police must be given time to file a counter affidavit in the case. Jayachandran observed that Justice GR Swaminathan, who quashed the detention order, passed the order “hastily without consulting the Bench partner” Justice Balaji.

Justice Jayachandran noted that the Advocate General sought four weeks of time to respond to how the detention order was sustainable but Justice GR Swaminathan declined the same. He also said that while Swaminathan rendered his opinion based on the records available, Justice Balaji did not say anything about the merits of the case. “There is literally no two conflicting views to resolve through reference to a third judge (sic),” he said and ordered that the case be heard afresh by a bench that deals with habeas corpus pleas.

Justice Jayachandran said that it was not a judgement with split verdict, but “an unilateral opinion of one Judge, which is not complimented by the opinion of the companion Judge, who shared the Bench”.

Swaminathan had earlier explained that the reason he took up the case and quashed the detention order immediately was because two “highly placed persons” met him requesting not to hear the habeas corpus petition.

“The reasons which has triggered him to deny the opportunity to the State is more disturbing and makes his finding on facts liable to be eschewed not only for want of completion by the opinion of junior judge in the Bench but also for the semblance of personal bias against the respondent against whom a serious allegation of approaching through emissary is made. Rarely such a thing happens to a Judge while discharging the duty. Even if such an event happens, past history of this Court says, Judges used to report it to the Chief Justice and/or take action for interfering in the administration of Justice and/or recuse from hearing the case. From the words of the learned judge, he being triggered by the approach of two emissaries, he been forced to by-pass the normal course. ‘Bias’ is not only direct or indirect interest on a party either personal, pecuniary or official. Even getting annoyed or disturbed over a backdoor attempt to interfere in the administration of justice may induce negative bias.”

He also added that if Justice Swaminathan’s judgement was affected by external factors, he should have recused himself from hearing the case.

Shankar was arrested on May 4 for making disparaging remarks against women police in Tamil Nadu. He has been booked for several offences, including stalking, possession of ganja, forgery, and harassment of women.

Madras High Court
Seven cases in a week: A detailed look at charges against ‘Savukku’ Shankar

Related Stories

No stories found.
The News Minute