Madras HC raps 4 top police officials

Probe blames them for clashes in court premises on February 19

Madras HC raps 4 top police officials

In a 508-page ruling, a Division Bench comprising Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R Banumathi directed initiating contempt of Court proceedings against the four officers for the ‘police excesses’ in the campus. The entire episode was an ‘affront to the judiciary’, they said, but ruled out a ‘police conspiracy’ under a coded ‘operation black-coat’, as charged by lawyers.

It may be recalled that lawyers were chased and lathi-charged by the police on February 19 inside the High Court campus, seriously injuring even a sitting judge, Justice Arumuga Perumal Adithyan. There was also extensive damage to Court properties, lawyers’ vehicles and even a police station was burnt down.
The incidents were sparked off when police sought to register a case against some lawyers for an ugly and daring attack on the Janata Party president, Dr Subramanian Swamy earlier inside a Court hall while he argued a case against State take-over of the famous Nataraja Temple in Chidambaram, when the Court boycott by advocates to protest the killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka had peaked. A section of the lawyers wanted an FIR to be first registered against Dr Swamy that day, leading allegedly to a scuffle with the police, triggering large-scale violence.

Prima facie case
The Bench, disposing off some writ petitions in connection with those incidents, said ‘prima facie, a case is made out’ against Radhakrishnan, then Chennai Police Commissioner, A K Vishwanathan, then Additional Commissioner of Police, Ramasubramani, then JCP (North), and Prem Anand Sinha, then DCP, Flower Bazar (near the Court premises).

“They (the four officers) have caused obstruction in the course of administration of Justice and contempt proceedings have to be necessarily initiated against them,” the Court ruled, directing issuance of contempt notices against them for their various acts of omission and commission including deployment of additional armed forces inside the High Court premises after Dr Swamy had left the place, and “that too without intimation or permission of the Court Registry.”   
In the same breath, the judges said that ‘abstaining of Courts by lawyers’ for whatever reason will not behove well. For members of a noble profession such as Law, there were other ways to display their protest, the judges said and hoped that in future they will not cause hindrance to the litigant public under the guise of Courts boycott or strike.

Adhere to ruling
The judges also directed the lawyers to ‘strictly adhere’ to the 2006 ban on holding any meeting inside the Court premises other than the regular meetings of their associations. Also, ‘no political party affiliation should be permitted inside the Court premises throughout the State for holding any meetings or demonstrations.’
The Bench further directed the Tamil Nadu Government to deposit an additional Rs 58.25 lakhs towards payment of ex-gratia amount to injured lawyers/court staff. The judges also directed the CBI to complete the investigation in cases filed in connection with the violent incidents quickly and submit their final report to the Court within three months.

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