Judiciary Has Broad Shoulders To Take Any Criticism: Madras High Court Quashes FIR Against Badri Seshadri For Alleged Derogatory Comments On CJI
The Madras High Court has quashed the First Information Report (FIR) filed against Badri Seshadri, a prominent political commentator and publisher in Tamil Nadu, for allegedly making provocative comments about the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud during a YouTube interview in relation to Manipur violence.
A Bench of Justice N. Anand Venkatesh quashed the FIR, registered by the Tamil Nadu Police in July saying that, “the judiciary has very broad shoulders to take any criticism unless the criticism results in directly interfering with the administration of justice.”
The Court said, “The petitioner might have gone overboard while making certain comments about the Hon'ble Chief Justice of India. However, the comments made by the petitioner must be looked at, from the context in which such comments were made.”
Advocate M.R. Venkatesh appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate A. Damodaran appeared for the Respondents.
On September 11, 2023, the Court had directed Seshadri to submit an affidavit expressing regret for the statements made in the interview. The petitioner complied, stating that the comments were taken out of context and were not meant to insult or defame the judiciary or the Chief Justice.
The Court accepted the affidavit submitted by Seshadri, in which he expressed regret for his remarks cautioning him about any similar future instances. The order read, “this Court is of the considered view that the curtains must be drawn. No useful purpose will be served in continuing with the investigation in this case. It is made clear that the petitioner will be more careful, while expressing himself in a public platform and he shall not repeat such instances in future.”
Seshadri was arrested on July 29 following the YouTube interview in which he had said, “Yesterday, the Supreme Court like a big…. I don’t know what word to say. ‘If you can’t do it (contain the violence), we will get down and do it.’ We should give a gun in the hand of Chandrachud (Chief Justice of India) and ask him to go there and do what he can to restore peace. Simply, talking anything without relation. Can you (judiciary) enter into the realm of governance? What fault did you find in what is being done [by the government] there [to restore normalcy]? Two groups are fighting. It is a hilly terrain. A complex land. In that, a few murders will happen. Why did they fight? Could we have prevented the reason for the two groups fighting? It can’t be done easily.”
He was subsequently granted bail by a local court in Tamil Nadu on August 1.
Cause Title: Badhrisheshathiri v. State & Anr.