Apex court seeks visuals of Baalu’s remarks against judges

December 10th, 2008 - 9:46 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Dec 10 (IANS) The Supreme Court Wednesday sought the visuals of the alleged contemptuous remarks Surface Transport Minister T.R. Baalu made against the apex court judges last year while enforcing a shutdown in Tamil Nadu defying court orders.A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi asked AIADMK counsel Guru Krishna Kumar to submit visuals of the minister’s remarks aired by news channels Times Now and Jaya TV last year.

The bench also asked the two TV channels for the visuals by Jan 20, the next date of hearing of a lawsuit the AIADMK filed, seeking contempt of court proceedings against the minister and others.

On Oct 1, 2007, Tamil Nadu’s ruling DMK party had called for a statewide shutdown, despite court orders against it, in support of the Sethusamudram shipping channel project.

The project aims at building a shorter navigational route around India’s southern tip, which will require dredging across the Adam’s Bridge, or Ram Setu as it is popularly called in India, in the Palk Strait which separates India and Sri Lanka.

Adam’s Bridge is a chain of limestone shoals 48 km long. Many Hindus believe that it was built by Lord Ram and his army of monkeys to facilitate his journey from southern India to Sri Lanka. Hindu outfits have opposed the dredging of the Ram Setu to facilitate the shipping project, citing religious feelings.

The AIADMK on Oct 4 last year moved the apex court, seeking contempt of court proceedings against Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi, T.R. Baalu and other state ministers for defying the court order against the shutdown.

Quoting Baalu’s statements in various newspapers, the AIADMK in its petition said Baalu had threatened the judges with impeachment for their order against the DMK-called shutdown.

The AIADMK petition said “the union minister made a deliberate and calculated attempt to denude the dignity of the apex court by imputing motives to judicial process”.

It quoted Baalu as questioning a special Sunday sitting of the court to halt the proposed shutdown. The petition quoted Baalu as saying, “When was sitting ever held on a Sunday? Unprecedented things are happening (in judiciary).”

“If we want to conduct a bandh (shutdown) in a democratic manner to ensure speedy implementation of the project, the Supreme Court is banning the same. Are judgements being delivered correctly in the courts? If that is so, why are the higher courts granting stay to lower courts’ rulings?” Baalu was quoted as saying in the media.

The bench earlier told the AIADMK counsel that the allegation was of general nature and did not specify in which newspapers or television channel the minister made the contemptuous remarks against the apex court judges.

Kumar, in response, filed a separate affidavit naming Times Now and Jaya TV as the channels that had aired Baalu’s contemptuous remarks.

“If it’s so, it’s a serious matter. For that we will have to examine the original tapes,” the bench said after going through the affidavit and sought the visuals from the two TV channels.

Appearing for DMK, senior counsel M.N. Rao contended that Baalu was a public servant and he cannot be hauled up for contempt to court unless permitted by the attorney general of India.

But the bench said it was merely examining at this stage if the minister committed contempt to court.

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