A day after Justice S Vaidyanathan of Madras High Court agreed to withdraw part of his controversial remarks about Christian institutions and “conversion” they ostensibly undertake, as also purported misuse of laws such as anti-dowry law by women, a group of senior lawyers wrote to High Court Chief Justice Vijaya K Tahilramani and demanded that no litigation related to Christian institutions and women should be posted before Justice Vaidyanathan’s bench.
The representation was signed by 64 senior lawyers, including R Vaigai, Anna Mathew, Sudha Ramalingam, K Prema, B Anitha, and Akila R S. They maintained that his conduct is “unbecoming of a judge who has sworn to uphold the Constitution and laws”.
On August 16, while hearing an internal sexual harassment committee’s proceedings against a faculty member of Madras Christian College, Justice Vaidyanathan had said in his order that “there is a general feeling amongst parents, especially (of) female students, that coeducational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for future of their children.”
Justice Vaidyanathan said that although Christian institutions “impart good education”, there are “several accusations against them (Christian missionaries) for indulging in compulsory conversion of people of other religions”.
On Tuesday, the judge agreed to withdraw a paragraph referring to Christian institutions. He did not withdraw other controversial portions in the same order.
Dealing with the sexual harassment case, Justice Vaidyanathan had written in the order that it may be time for the government to think of suitable amendment in laws to “prevent misuse” of laws meant to safeguard women in the “interest of the innocent masculinity”. He cited instances of misuse of the anti-dowry law, as, he observed, “women will find it hard to resist the temptation to ‘teach a lesson’ to male members and will file frivolous and false cases”.
Stating that Justice Vaidyanathan’s observations in the court order amount to “transgression of judicial discipline,” the representation before Chief Justice Tahilramani cited another “unfortunate” instance from the judge when he imposed dress code for all temples in Tamil Nadu, even though the case before him was only about permission to conduct a cultural programme in a temple.
Noting that Justice Vaidyanathan often expresses his opinions and issues directions on matters that were not subject of adjudication, the lawyers noted that his observations amount to “abuse of office”, “propagation of communal hatred”, “gender bias”, and “judicial bias”.
Quoting some of the controversial remarks, the petition stated that Justice Vaidyanathan reveals that he believes most women misuse laws intended to protect them and it is time to amend them to protect men.