Goondas Act on ‘Savukku’ Shankar: Madras High Court delivers split verdict; judge says was warned not to hear case

Madras High Court was hearing the plea filed by Savukku Shankar's mother A Kamala challenging his detention under the Goondas Act.

BySouth First Desk

Published May 24, 2024 | 8:03 PMUpdatedMay 24, 2024 | 8:12 PM

Goondas Act on YouTuber 'Savukku' Shankar

Hearing the plea challenging Youtuber “Savukku” Shankar’s detention under the Goondas Act, the Madras High Court on Friday, 24 May, delivered a split verdict.

Additionally, one of the justices said he was “warned” not to hear the case by two unknown persons.

The court was hearing two petitions — a habeas corpus filed by “Savukku” Shankar’s mother A Kamala challenging his detention under the Goondas Act and an inquiry by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) into the alleged custodial violence against him, according to Live Law.

While Justice GR Swaminathan squashed the detention, Justice PB Balaji dissented and said police must be given time to file counter affidavit in the case, according to a post on ‘X’ by Live Law.

Now, Acting Chief Justice R Mahadevan will nominate a third judge to hear the case.

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Justice GR Swaminathan on being ‘warned’

Just before delivering the verdict, Justice GR Swaminathan revealed in open court that he was warned by two unknown persons not to hear the habeas corpus petition filed by Kamala on behalf of ‘Savukku’ Shankar.

According to Bar and Bench, the judge said he took up the matter for a final hearing on Friday because two people had met him and “advised” him not to deal with the case.

Observing that Shankar has been arrested in five cases and no bail has been granted, Justice Swaminathan, said while quashing his detention that there was no probability of him coming out, according to local reports.

He also said that the Youtuber’s actions were not prejudicial in the maintenance of public order.

On Thursday, the Madras High Court asked Shankar to make a statement on how he will conduct himself in future as a YouTuber in light of his derogatory comments against the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, according to Live Law.

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Cases against ‘Savukku’ Shankar

YouTuber “Savukku” Shankar, currently lodged in the Coimbatore Central prison, was detained under the Goondas Act on 12 May.

He was arrested on 4 May based on allegations that he made derogatory remarks against women police personnel during a recent YouTube interview.

However, a few days after his arrest, his mother A Kamala moved the Madras High Court with allegations that her son was facing custodial torture.

Subsequently, the Coimbatore District Legal Services Authority was asked to submit a report on his health condition.

Savukku has several cases pending against him dating back a few years including those under Sections 294(b), 509, and 353 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

He was also booked under Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Woman Act and Section 67 of the Information Technology Act of 2000.

Known for his commentary on political matters and fierce criticism of the ruling DMK government, he was initially sentenced to six months of imprisonment on 15 September, 2023, for objectionable remarks against the higher judiciary and the judge.

However, the Supreme Court on 12 November suspended his sentence while directing him not to make any comments or videos on court proceedings.

A former employee of the state vigilance and anti-corruption department, Shankar’s rise to fame was in 2008 after he shared audio recordings that allegedly revealed illicit wiretapping activities conducted by law enforcement agencies in the state.

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(Edited by Neena)