Section of advocates come out in support of Madras HC judge

Justice S Vaidyanathan

Chennai: Days after Madras High Court judge Justice S Vaidyanathan withdrew his controversial observation that co-education in Christian institutes was highly unsafe for the future of girl children, a group of advocates has come out in support of him yesterday.

The judge found himself in the midst of a controversy when he had made the observation recently when refusing to quash a show-cause notice issued to a Madras Christian College professor facing sexual harassment charge from at least 34 girl students pursuing third-year Zoology course at the college.

Dismissing the plea of Assistant Professor Samuel Tennyson, Vaidyanathan had stated, “There is a general feeling among parents of students, especially female students, that co-educational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children.”

Following this, a delegation of 64 lawyers led by senior advocate R Vaigai on Wednesday had earlier submitted a representation urging the chief justice not to post any cases on Christian missionaries as well as women before Justice Vaidyanathan and also requested the chief justice to counsel the judge to recall the order and delete some more paras in it. When advocate Vaigai had on Wednesday made a mention before the judge in the court to hear the case again for removal of some controversial paras in the order, the judge, when it came up for hearing the next day said, “The High Court Registry is directed to issue a fresh order copy after removing the expunged paras.”

On Friday, in a representation to the Chief Justice, the Advocates For Reform, Chennai, comprising about 82 advocates, said while it is open to the legal fraternity to criticise a judgment on its merits, lawyers cannot claim any right to criticise judges in their personal capacity for the pronouncements made by them in the judgment.

“When it is always open to to the aggrieved parties to file an appeal if they are aggrieved by the judgment, the advocates have no right to demand the judges to recall the orders passed by them,” said the advocates in the representation.

They further stated that unwarranted criticism of the judges for the views taken by them in the judgments would undermine the independence of the judiciary and would amount to gross interference in the administration of justice.

NT Bureau