Madras HC judge withdraws controversial comments

Madras HC judge withdraws controversial comments

Madras High Court. DH file photo

Under criticism from various quarters, Madras High Court judge S Vaidyanathan on Tuesday withdrew his controversial remarks that Christian educational institutions were "highly unsafe" for the future of girl children.

The judge agreed to delete the relevant paragraph from the verdict he delivered on August 16, on a petition filed by a professor of the prestigious Madras Christian College (MCC), who is accused of sexually harassing his students during an academic trip to Karnataka early this year.

Several Christian associations, minority institutions and a section of lawyers had criticised Justice Vaidyanathan for his comments, which they said had, “branded an entire community” in the negative. Following the outrage and a submission by the counsel representing MCC urging the court to remove the observations, Justice Vaidyanathan withdrew the comments on Tuesday afternoon and announced that a fresh order will be uploaded soon on the website of the court.

The judge had made the remarks while refusing to quash a show-cause notice issued to Assistant Professor Samuel Tennyson following the findings of a Committee of Enquiry (Internal Complaints Committee) which probed the sexual harassment complaint against him, and the consequential second show-cause notice to him on May 24, 2019.

"There is a general feeling among parents of students, especially female students, that coeducational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children," Justice Vaidyanathan had said, adding that Christian missionaries always came under attack for some issue or the other.

The harassment occurred during an academic tour to Mysuru, Bengaluru and Coorg in January this year.