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Lawyer in compromising position during virtual hearing gets 2 weeks jail term

The Bench observed that the woman lawyer with whom Santhana Krishnan was seen should be suitably compensated following which he had paid her Rs 4 lakh.

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Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday sentenced advocate RD Santhana Krishnan to two weeks imprisonment after he was seen in a compromising position with a woman during virtual court proceedings in December 2021.

Passing the order, the Bench of Justices PN Prakash and AA Nakkiran also suspended him from practicising in future. The Bench observed that the woman lawyer with whom Santhana Krishnan was seen should be suitably compensated following which he had paid her Rs 4 lakh.

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The final order passed by the Court recorded that the respondent accordingly handed over the demand draft to the Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority and the same was given to woman.

“The Secretary, Tamil Nadu State Legal Services Authority has submitted a report stating that Santhana Krishnan has complied with this Court’s order dated March 22 this year and that the demand draft has also been handed over to “X” who was identified by the Inspector of Police, CB-CID,” the order said.

The Court had initiated contempt of court proceedings against Santhana Krishnan after he was seen in a compromising position while a matter was being heard via virtual mode before before a Bench of Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan.

The petitioner submitted before the Court that he had great respect for the institution, but since he was not tech savvy, he was unaware that the camera on his laptop was on while the incident took place. He said that the act was not intended to scandalise the Court or its authority. However, the Court was not convinced by this defence put forth by the respondent.

“It is like one saying “I did not see the policeman on the other side of the road when I jumped the traffic signal; had I seen him, I would not have done so,” the Bench said.

It was stated that he had consciously elected to come into the Court proceedings virtually and on having done so, he was required to maintain a sense of respect and decorum irrespective of whether the camera was on or off. It was the Bench’s stand that if he had engaged in the act on exiting the virtual platform, no one would have had any grievance.

“The whole problem for him was he wanted to have the best of the worlds at the same time, viz., to be in virtual hearing platform with his professional work and simultaneously, to canoodle with “X”.

” Therefore, saying that one cannot run with the hare and hunt with the hound, his explanation was dismissed. The Court also clarified that “X” was not impleaded in the contempt petition as she was from a poor background and a victim of circumstances.

“She fell prey to Santhana Krishnan’s lechery,” the Court remarked. Though the Court took into account that “X” appeared to be an accomplice in the video, they found her plight disturbing since she not only suffered, but would continue to suffer shame and trauma on account of the respondent’s indiscretion.

In terms of sentence, the respondent prayed for mercy on the grounds that he had suffered enough and not only had he lost his name and honour in society, but he also suffered incarceration for 34 days and suspension of practice.

The Court while contemplating his appeal referred to verses 2 to 11 of Chapter 8 titled “John” of the Holy Bible, and said that there may be many like the respondent who were lucky or clever enough to not be captured and the Court could not engage in moral policing.

“Though we are too small to play Jesus, yet, one cannot be oblivious of the fact that there could be many a Santhana Krishnan in various walks of life who are lucky enough in not getting captured in a camera or clever enough to get away by hook or crook,” the order said.

Thus, it was their decision to temper justice with mercy and not flog him to assert their might. “The power of the ocean does not lie in its tumultuous tides but in its meditative vastness.” With this, the respondent was sentenced to undergo simple imprisonment for two weeks for each charge and pay a fine of Rs 6,000 in total. 

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