UPDATE:Six former judges of the Madras High Court have written to the Chief Justice of the High Court asking him not to take cognisance of a judge’s complaint asking for contempt proceedings against actor Suriya.
The former judges cited Justice SM Subramaniam’s construction of the actor’s statement as “slightly off the mark”.
Madras HC judge SM Subramaniam had written to the High Court Chief Justice seeking initiation of contempt proceedings against actor Suriya after his statement on Sunday called holding the National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) ‘unfair’ to students.
Suriya had released his statement on NEET after three medical aspirants registered for the exam died by suicide on Saturday. A woman and two men, aged between 19 and 21, were from Madurai, Dharmapuri and Namakkal districts.
In his statement, the actor said it pained him to see students forced to write such ‘manuneethi tests’ in a pandemic.
Suriya said, “With the fear of life due to corona scare, court which dispenses justice via video-conferencing orders students to fearlessly go and take exams,” NDTV quoted.
Justice Subramaniam 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,” NDTV quoted.
NDTV’s Sam Daniel Stalin reported that in translating the actor’s statement from Tamil to English, the judge’s version had new words like “morale” and “while -so” which were not in the actor’s statement.
“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,” Justice Subramaniam wrote in his letter.
In their letter, the former HC judges also pointed to the difference in the wording of the statement as quoted by Justice Subramaniam and urged the HC Chief Justice “to leave the matter” so that “the court is rid of any unnecessary controversies”.
The NewsMinute reported Suriya had slammed the government, saying education policies were framed by those who are unaware of the ground realities of the poor and the downtrodden.
He asked people to raise their voice against NEET. “Let us vocalise our opposition against NEET, which sets fire to the medical dreams of students from normal families,” he added.
Opposition parties in the state led by the DMK slammed the BJP-led Centre over the NEET issue, even as the ruling AIADMK, also opposed to the exam, rued the deaths of the youngsters.
In 2017, Dalit student Anitha from Ariyalur had died by suicide after she failed to crack NEET, despite good scores in Class XII exam, prompting the state political parties to mount an offensive against the Centre and demand for cancelling the exam.
Student Durga’s death on Saturday morning drew sharp responses from Tamil Nadu political parties opposed to NEET, even as Chief Minister K Palaniswami and his deputy O Panneerselvam of the ruling AIADMK expressed shock over the incident.
DMK President M K Stalin said NEET “is not an exam at all.“ “We can realise from the death of Anitha to Jothisri Durga that NEET is severely affecting students,” he said in a tweet.
“I repeat, suicide is not a solution; NEET is not an exam at all. #BanNeet_SaveTNStudents,” he added.
In a separate statement, he appealed to students not to resort to such extreme steps, asserting that success has to be achieved through struggle.
Targeting the Centre and the state government, he said “the student community is falling prey to the fire called NEET fuelled by them.“
Palaniswami expressed grief over the “sad” incident and said students have many avenues to taste success. “It is distressing to see students, the hope for the future, taking such steps,” he said.
“Students should learn to face any situation with guts and parents should aid them in this,” the deputy CM, also the AIADMK Coordinator, said.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court had refused to entertain a batch of pleas seeking deferment or cancellation of NEET scheduled for Sunday. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan had said authorities will take all necessary steps for conducting the NEET-undergraduate exam amid the COVID-19 pandemic for admission in medical courses.
(With PTI inputs)