In a major setback to actor and BJP leader S Ve Shekar, the Madras high court on Thursday denied anticipatory bail to the actor who apprehended arrest in connection with a criminal case registered against him for his alleged derogatory social media post against woman journalists.
Dismissing Sheker’s advance bail application, Justice S Ramathilagam directed police to take action on the complaint as they would do on a normal complaint against any person.
In a hard-hitting order, Justice S. Ramathilagam asked: “If sharing bed is the only way to come up in life, then does it include all women who are holding high posts now? No one has a right to abuse women and if done, it is a violation of rights.”
Though the petitioner had claimed to have apologised for having shared the post, the judge said: “Showing emotions in a controlled form is a leadership quality. Words from people in public life should bring peace and harmony and should not incite hatred and disharmony. People should not go with a feeling that we can air anything and get away with the word ‘sorry.’”
On his contention that the Facebook post was shared by him without reading it, the judge said: “Mistakes and crimes are not same. Only children can make mistakes that can be pardoned. If the same is done by elderly people, it becomes an offence. He [the petitioner] has only regretted forwarding [the message], but he has not denied what is said in the message.”
“What is said is important, but who said it is very important in society because people respect persons for the social status. When a celebrity forwards messages like this, the common public will start to be believe that such things are going on. This sends a wrong message to society at a time when we are talking about women empowerment.”
Ms. Justice Ramathilagam also said the language used in the Facebook post was abusive and obscene and not expected of a person of the petitioner’s calibre and age “who claims to be a literate with lot of credentials and a lot of followers. Instead of being a role model to his followers, he has set a wrong precedent.
“Every day, we see young emotional boys getting arrested for doing this type of activity on social media. Law is same to everyone and people should not lose faith in our judiciary… After seeing these forwarded words from a popular person… the public will look at every working woman with a suspicious eye,” the judge said.
Further, she pointed out that though the petitioner had deleted the Facebook post, it remained unerased from the minds of the people. “When we are in public life, every act of ours is being watched by the public… This forwarded message has shaken the entire society in which women hold an equal citizenship with all rights without a gender disparity,” she added.
The judge also took into consideration the fact that the petitioner was an influential personality since he had admitted he was associated with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP. She said it was natural on the part of the the complainant and other journalists to expect the petitioner to be dealt in accordance with law especially when the police had arrested them for protesting against him.
She directed the Chennai city police to proceed with the case “in the same way as they would investigate any other common man.”