Film star Suriya Sivakumar should face contempt action over his comments on Sunday on the Madras High Court linked to the alleged suicide of three medical aspirants, a judge has said. However, it appears that the judge reacted to a wrongly translated version of Suriya’s statement.
Four students who were to appear for the highly competitive NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test), died by suicide last week in Tamil Nadu. Describing the deaths as “painful” and ones that had “shaken his conscience”, Suriya had said, “With the fear of life due to corona scare, the court which dispenses justice via video-conferencing orders students to fearlessly go and take exams.”
Madras High Court judge SM Subramaniam said the actor was in contempt of court. “The said statement in my considered opinion amounts to contempt of court as the integrity and devotion of the Hon’ble Judges as well as the Judicial System of our Great Nation are not only undermined but criticised in a bad shape, wherein there is a threat for the public confidence on the Judiciary (sic),” he wrote to the Chief Justice of the Madras High Court.
But the judge’s translation from Tamil of the controversial part of Suriya’s statement is incorrect in the copy circulated to the media. “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 (sic),” the judge wrote.
While Suriya’s statement appeared to be matter of fact, the judge’s version added elements like “morale” and “while-so” which are not found in the actor’s statement.
Six former judges have asked the Madras High Court Chief Justice to take no action against Suriya. “We should show generosity and magnanimity considering Suriya’s help to hundreds of poor students. An artistic person’s overreaction should not be taken seriously and out of context. It’s our duty to appeal so that the court is rid of any unnecessary controversies,” the former judges wrote in their letter to the Chief Justice.