Not Contempt, But "Unnecessary": High Court On Actor Suriya's NEET Remark

High Court judge SM Balasubramaniam had said the actor was in contempt of court over his comments on four candidates of NEET who died by suicide recently in Tamil Nadu.

Actor Suriya had called for a movement for a united voice against NEET.

Film star Suriya Sivakumar will not face a contempt case over his comments on the Madras High Court linked to the alleged suicide of three medical aspirants. The Madras High Court today called the actor's comments "unnecessary and unwarranted" but ruled that there would be no contempt proceedings.

"The utterances by the cine actor are unnecessary and unwarranted for being ignorant of the manner in which the entire judiciary of this state has served the interest of it's citizens he state has been serving during this pandemic ...," the court said.

High Court judge SM Balasubramaniam had said the actor was in contempt of court over his comments on four candidates of NEET (National Eligibility cum Entrance Test) who died by suicide recently in Tamil Nadu.

"This matter in our judicious discretion does not deserve to be pursued further. We entirely agree with the opinion expressed by the learned Advocate General," said the court today. 

Suriya, describing the student deaths as "painful", 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."

Judge Balasubramaniam wrote to the High Court Chief Justice: "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)."

The judge had also said: "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)."

But it appeared that the judge's translation from Tamil was incorrect in the copy circulated to the media. The judge's version added elements like "morale" and "while -so" which are not found in the actor's statement.

Suriya won a lot of support on social media for his statement in support of students. Hashtags like #TNStandsWithSuriya trended on Twitter. Six former judges of Madras High Court too had written to the Chief Justice against contempt proceedings.

Several states had called for NEET and JEE to be deferred, given the rising COVID 19 cases. The Supreme Court twice rejected petitions to defer the exams, once by students and the second time by opposition-ruled states.

Tamil Nadu had demanded exemption from NEET and consent to admit students on the basis of Class 12 marks.

Suriya also called for a movement for a united voice against NEET, saying, "NEET kills doctor dreams of children from poor families. We shouldn't be silent spectators of student deaths."

The 45-year-old actor called NEET "Manuneedhi Thervu" (thervu is exam in Tamil), suggesting that students from affluent families benefited with NEET and the poor were left out in the cold.