Published: 20th August 2019
Madras HC judge withdraws remark about safety of Christian institutions, at the behest of Madras Christian College's lawyer
After widespread criticism and outrage for his observations while dismissing a plea by a professor accused of sexual harassment, the Madras HC judge had his comments expunged
After the outrage came the outage. After three days of protests and condemnation for his remarks about the lack of safety for women students in Christian-run Co-education institutions, Madras High Court judge Justice S Vaidyanathan agreed to withdraw his remarks - this came on the back of a fervent argument in open court by the counsel appearing for Madras Christian College, in whose favour the judge had originally ruled in the case at hand.
According to reports, the standing counsel for the college in Tambaram made a fervent appeal that the remarks made by the judge not be part of the judgement as they were generic and misleading and reflected institutions such as theirs in an extremely unflattering light. Coming on the back of abject criticism - from bodies such as AIDWA, several Bishops Associations, Christian Rights groups and even the National Commission for Minorities - the arguments placed forth by the lawyer hit the mark. The judge agreed to withdraw his observations and gave a direction to that effect.
Incidentally, the paragraph that caused all the trouble according to reports in The Hindu and TOI was thus, “Before parting with the judgment, this Court feels it appropriate to point out that Christian missionaries are always on the source of attack in one way or the other and in the present era, there are several accusations against them for indulging in compulsory conversion of people of other religions into Christianity. Now, there is a general feeling amongst the parents of students, especially female students that co-educational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children and though they impart good education, the preach of morality will be a million dollar question. As long as a religion is practised in streets in lieu of its worship places, like Temple, Mosque, Church, etc., such devastation, as in the present case, does occur and will be mushrooming.”
Following charges of sexual harassment levelled against two lecturers in the Zoology department of MCC, the Internal Complaints Committee found them guilty, subsequent to which the college moved to terminate one of them and issued a show cause notice to the other. The latter approached the Madras HC with a writ petition challenging the College's notice as being invalid. However, Justice Vaidyanathan tossed the writ and said that he would offer him no relief in this case - ruling in favour of the college.