“We are now suffering from a virtual information diarrhoea where everyone is bombarded with messages. Hence, what is exchanged as a message on social media can have a very big influence within a short time. That is the reason as to why a person must exercise social responsibility while creating or forwarding a message.”
:Justice N. Anand Venkatesh1
Born on 04-07-1969, Justice N. Anand Venkatesh is held in high esteem within the legal fraternity for not only his progressive decisions but also for his profound observations within those judgments. His name rose to further prominence when while hearing a case related to recognition of LGBTQ+ rights in State of Tamil Nadu, Justice Venkatesh decided to undergo a counselling session in order to understand the trials and tribulations faced by the LGBTQ+ community. While hearing the case, Justice Venkatesh observed that,
“I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely. Ignorance is no justification for normalizing any form of discrimination. Therefore, I took upon myself, the vested responsibility and the duty to deliver justice in all its forms and spirit, of cutting across personal prejudices and notions and setting forth to, at the least, educate myself lest my ignorance interfere with in guiding homosexuality and the LGBTQIA+ community towards social justice. I believe in all honesty and sincerity that even if my endeavor inspires, informs and changes a small collective of persons in understanding and accepting the LGBTQIA+ community, I would have achieved in delivering justice in its true spirit against discrimination and towards inclusivity”2.
Education and Career Trajectory so far3
Justice Venkatesh did his schooling from St. Mary’s School at Perambur; his under-graduation B.Com., at A.M. Jain College, Meenambakkam and Law from Ambedkar Law College, Chennai.
Justice Venkatesh joined the office of his senior B. Ramamoorthy while he was a student during the 1st year B.L and after his enrolment in the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry on 15-10-1993 Justice Venkatesh continued in his office as his Junior from 1993 till 1997.
Thereafter he started his independent practice and being a first-generation lawyer, he took up whatever cases that came his way, as a result of which, Justice Venkatesh picked up all round practice in the Original side, Appellate side, Criminal side and Writ Jurisdiction before the High Court of Madras as well as Service matters before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Chennai Bench and practiced in subordinate courts – both Civil and Criminal.
Justice Venkatesh was appointed as Amicus Curiae by the High Court both on the civil and criminal side while deciding some important questions of law.
Justice Venkatesh regularly contributed articles on various legal issues both on the civil and criminal side for various Law Journals. Furthermore, he was given an opportunity as a contact person in the Tamil Nadu State Judicial Academy and was regularly addressing the Subordinate Court Judges, on various topics both in Civil and Criminal law.
Did you Know? Justice N. Anand Venkatesh was also a part of Consultation and Drafting Committee which suggested various improvements in the realm of commercial litigation all over the Country. This has resulted in the enactment of the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015.
On 29-09-2023, Justice Venkatesh and 11 other Judges were chosen from the principal seat of the High Court in Chennai to hold sitting in the Madurai Bench from 3-10-2023 to 22-12-2023 as per the new roster decided by Chief Justice S.V. Gangapurwala. Justice Venkatesh’s cases in the Principal Seat will now be taken over by Justice G. Jayachandran.4
Did you Know? Justice Venkatesh has keen interest in sports, particularly cricket where he played upto Senior Division conducted by TNCA. He is also an avid music lover and loves reading books on varied topics5.
Notable Judgments by Justice N. Anand Venkatesh
Madras HC refuses to quash criminal proceedings against BJP leader H. Raja for tweeting against Periyar, Karunanidhi and officers of HR&CE Department
In a criminal petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) to quash the proceedings in relation to the speech made by Bharatiya Janata Party’s National Secretary H Raja in a meeting held at Dindigul on 17-09-2018, wherein he made insulting and derogatory remarks against EV Ramaswamy (Periyar), K Karunanidhi, Kanimozhi Karunanidhi, officers of Hindu Religious and Charitable Endowment Department and their wives. N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. while dismissing the petition, transferred the proceedings to the Special Court for MP/MLA Cases and directed the Court to complete the proceedings within a period of three months after the charges are framed. [H. Raja v State, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 5795]
A woman has an identity that cannot be taken away depending upon her marital status: Madras HC directs police to ensure entry of a widow in temple
In a writ petition filed for a direction to the police to provide protection to the petitioner and her son to enter the Periyakaruparayan temple situated at Nambiyur Taluk, Erode District and participate in the temple festival on 09-08-2023 and 10-08-2023 based on the representation dated 19-07-2023. N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. has held that the respondents do not have any right to stop the petitioner and her son from attending the festival and worshiping God. Further, said that a woman, by herself, has a status and identity and that cannot in any way come down or be taken away depending upon her marital status. [Thangamani v The Collector, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 5132]
“There was a calculated attempt to undermine administration of criminal justice” Madras HC on transfer of corruption case against former Transport Minister K Ponmudi
In a criminal revision filed against the judgment based on a transfer order passed by the Principal District Judge (‘PDJ’), Vellore wherein accused / who was alleged to have acquired and come into possession of properties and other pecuniary resources in his name and the names of his wife and sons, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income, was acquitted. N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. has held that transfer of the case against K Ponmudi from PDJ, Villupuram to PDJ Vellore was ex-facie illegal and no non-est in the eye of law. [Suo Motu RC v. Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Wing, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 5304]
Read why Madras HC refused to quash criminal proceedings against actor and politician S.Ve Shekher for forwarding derogatory and vulgar comment against women journalists
In a petition filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (‘CrPC’) to quash criminal proceedings initiated against actor and politician S.Ve Sheker for his derogatory remarks against women journalists, N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. while refusing to quash the criminal proceedings on the ground that S.Ve Shekher has given an unconditional apology, said that if such an easy route is adopted, anyone can make such statements, cause damage, subsequently apologise for his act and get away from the action taken against him. Further, it held that offences under Sections 504, 505(1)(c) and 509 of the Penal Code, 1860 (‘IPC’) and Section 4 of the Tamil Nadu Prohibition of Harassment of Women Act, 2002 are made out against S.Ve Shekher. [S.Ve. Shekher v. Al. Gopalsamy, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 4626]
Read why Madras High Court denied conducting fresh preliminary inquiry against Former CM Edappadi Palaniswami in Highway Tender Scam
In a petition filed by Indian Politician R.S Bharathi under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 to direct the Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption (‘DVAC’) to register and investigate the complaint against former Chief Minister EK Palaniswami regarding the Highway tender scam, N. Anand Venkatesh, J*., while expressing anguish on the complete loss of independent functioning by the Executive, held that the preliminary inquiry report, which was submitted by the Additional Superintendent of Police, Special Investigation Cell, Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, (Enquiry Officer) does not suffer from any apparent illegality or unreasonableness in reaching the conclusion regarding every allegation that was made against EK Palaniswami. Further, it said that there is no reason for conducting another fresh preliminary inquiry as was ordered by the Government, as such a direction has been given only due to the change in the political party that has come to power. The only appropriate remedy in law for RS Bharathi will be under Section 156(3) CrPC. [R.S. Bharathi v. Director of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 4717]
Madras High Court directs DGP to identify cases involving consensual relationship amongst pending POCSO cases; Discontinues Two-Finger Test and Potency Test
Pursuant to the administrative order of the Acting Chief Justice a division bench was constituted to monitor the implementation of provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (‘POCSO’) Act and Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2015 on the judicial side. The division bench of N. Anand Venkatesh* and Sunder Mohan, JJ. has directed the Director General of Police (‘DGP’) to identify cases involving consensual relationship from among the 1274 pending cases. Further, it discontinued the two-finger test and the archaic potency test. [Kajendran v. Superintendent of Police6]
[Appointment of Archaka] Person of any caste can be appointed, provided he is well-versed in Agamas: Madras HC reiterates
In a writ petition filed against the advertisement issued by Assistant Commissioner and the Executive Officer of Sri Sugavaneswarar Swamy Temple, calling for applications to fill up the position of Archakas/Sthanikam at Sri Sugavaneswarar Swamy Temple, N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. reiterated that in the matter of appointment of an Archaka, the rule of next-in-line of succession cannot be insisted. Thus, any person belonging to any caste or creed can be appointed as an Archaka provided he is a well-versed and an accomplished person in the Agamas and rituals necessary to be performed in a temple. [Muthu Subramania Gurukkal v. The Commissioner, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 4174]
Decoding Madras High Court verdict on Gokulraj Murder committed “under the influence of demon called caste”
In seven criminal appeals filed against the judgment passed by the Trial Court, wherein the Court had convicted the accused persons in the Gokulraj murder case, division bench of M.S. Ramesh and N. Anand Venkatesh*, JJ. convicted ten accused persons and sentenced eight of them to life imprisonment for the rest of their lives without entitlement for remission and a fine of Rs. 5,000/-. Further, it sentenced two accused persons to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs. 5,000. [Yuvaraj v State, 2023 SCC OnLine Mad 3621]
Madras High Court| LGBTQIA+ community sidelined from society’s mainstream for too long; Time for Tamil Nadu Government to frame guidelines to protect their rights
In the case relating to the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community, N. Anand Venkatesh, J*. has observed that six months’ time sought by the Government to finalize the Transgender Policy and the rules is completely unacceptable and this shows that priority is not being given to this issue and expects the Government to appreciate the concern shown by this Court. The Court took note of the submissions given by the Additional Advocate General and directed all concerned, including the press, to take note of the notification published in the gazette on 20.08.2022 and to address persons belonging to LGBTQIA+ community by using only the notified terms. [S. Sushma v. Commissioner of Police, 2022 SCC OnLine Mad 4255]
When Madras HC Judge “removed a Lordship’s hat” for framing guidelines for proper recognition of LGBTQIA+ rights
N. Anand Venkatesh, J*., issued interim directions for proper recognition of the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community and to ensure their safety and security to lead a life of their choice. The Bench itself went under a counselling session and gained a great amount of insight and understanding and felt that further interaction with person(s) who belong to the LGBTQIA+ community would be greatly instrumental to help myself understand the ground realities, emotions, social discrimination and exclusion and several other difficulties faced by the community.
Venkatesh, J., made profound observations regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stating that- “Unlike regular litigations, the present case has given this Court, not only an opportunity but also a vested responsibility to weigh the cause for inclusivity and justice against discrimination by heretofore social understanding of morality and notions of tradition. That being said, I also felt that I remove the “Lordship’s” hat and instead wear the hat of the average commoner in the society, who have not given thought to understand or accept, who are attempting to understand, who totally refuse to understand or accept the LGBTQIA+ community. I have no hesitation in accepting that I too belong to the majority of commoners who are yet to comprehend homosexuality completely. Ignorance is no justification for normalizing any form of discrimination. Society and my upbringing have always treated the terms “homosexual”, “gay”, “lesbian” as anathema. A majority of the society would stand in the same position of ignorance and preconceived notions” [S. Sushma v. Commissioner of Police, 2021 SCC OnLine Mad 2096]
*Judge who authored the judgment
6. H.C.P. No. 2182 of 2022