Madras High Court sentences Youtuber Savukku Shankar to six months imprisonment for contempt of court

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The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court Thursday sentenced Youtuber Savukku Shankar to six months imprisonment for contempt of court.

A bench of Justices GR Swaminathan and B Pugalenthi refused to stay the order or to suspend Shankar’s sentence.

The bench said that while Shankar had said in his defence that his statements had been taken out of context, and he had spoken up, merely out of concern for the judiciary, the same could not be held as a “mitigating circumstance.”

“He (Shankar) claimed to be deeply concerned with the under-representation of the suppressed classes and the over-representation of brahmins in higher judiciary. He took us through the report of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes on reservation in judiciary and pointed out that his article referred to in the charges is a mere echo of the very same views. He emphasized that his comments have been taken out of context. He reiterated that he has
respect for judiciary and that he only wants the system to be rid of some of the evils plaguing it.
He asserted that if his interviews and articles are considered as a whole, then it would be evident that his intention was only to demand improvement in the system and not anything else. However, as already held, that would not amount to a mitigating circumstance at all,” HC said.

The bench further said that Shankar’s conduct deserved to be noted. It said that the court would have closed the proceedings against Shankar if he had “realised his mistake and sincerely apologised.” But far from doing so, the contemnor stuck to his position, HC said.

Shankar was facing contempt proceedings following his public statement on the Youtube channel ‘Redpix’ claiming that “the entire judiciary” was “riddled with corruption.”

Shankar made the claim on July 22 following which suo motu criminal contempt proceedings were initiated against him by the Madurai bench.

On August 4, the high court issued a second notice to Shankar asking why contempt proceedings must not be initiated against him. Subsequently, Shankar had told the Madurai bench that he “stood by” his statements made on the rampant corruption in the judiciary.

During the hearing on Thursday, advocate AL Somayaji, the amicus curiae appointed in the matter, told the bench that Shankar’s statements had been made with the “intent to scandalise the court.”

During the day’s hearing, Shankar had submitted a written reply before the bench claiming that he “deeply loved” his country and wished that the nation’s institutions were strengthened. He said it was for this purpose that he speaks up and writes.

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