chennai lawyer police clash feb 20


The entire Opposition has been evicted from the Tamil NaduAssembly after All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (AIADMK) leader J Jayalalithaa demanded that the Centre dismiss the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam government.


Jayalalithaa and the Opposition were protesting Thursday’s clash between the lawyers and the police at the Madras High Court. The state government issued a statement saying that the violence started because lawyers resisted arrest over the attack on Monday on Janata Party President Subramanian Swamy.


Lawyers allege that 500 policemen in riot gear attacked them as they protested the arrest of a colleague. However, police say that they were trying to calm the rampaging advocates and Swamy claimed that pro-LTTE lawyers were taking out their frustration.


2 Responses

  1. Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer’s statement

    At First the lawyers were to blame for assaulting Dr. Subramaniam Swamy. Then the police came berserk and in rapid excess of violence. I just received a long communication from Chennai about the horrendous terror and horror where the uniformed police force turned barbarian and beat up every black robed lawyer they came across and in the rumpus and riotous situation. A few robed brethren administering justice were also victims of lathy generosity. Around 150 lawyers have stated to have been hospitalized with injuries. As the police station incendiarised inside the court premises with riot police everywhere and justices seeking refuge inside the Chief Justice’s Chambers. This is a scenery the like of which no eye had seen, no heart conceived, no human tongue can adequately tell. The police managed the press and put out a version making the lawyers the villain. Poisonous when pitted against the police the lawyer’s version went by default and even the judges proved powerless. The highest institution of justice in the State stands scandalize and stultified and the forensic process was panalised with the Constitution made a paper tiger. The judges with their rich power cipherized and the administration of justice in the State humiliated by police raj with none to police the police. This grave collapse of the rule of law is a national catastrophe of people’s sovereignty. What we need now is not orders and lectures, articles and arguments but withdraw the police, the last of them from the High Court premises and the compound, suspend the Commissioner of Police and the DGP or else all the judges of the Court en-mass resign until the judiciary is restored to its power and dignity and the High Court truly hallowed and absolute peace restored. A high-powered Commission with full power of investigation shall come into existence in a week’s time with full power to recommend transitory transfers and interim punitive orders with natural justice observed. An emergency in Chennai shall at once be promulgated with the plenary power of the State administration vested in a group of the senior most high judges of the supreme Court—an extraordinary measure which the Central Cabinet must immediately act otherwise the cause of justice which is fundamental to fundamental rights is made a cadaver and Indian Independence annihilated internally by a Khaki domination a law unto itself. This shall not be. When the nation is in crisis political difference is allergic unless the President acts now. Swaraj becomes mirage and democracy a simulacrum of independence.

  2. Press release sent out yesterday, which media ignored
    The vandalism and carnage inside the Madras High Court by the police on 19th February 2009, has evoked a rather strange and even a shocking response from certain sections, particularly the middle class civil society. More than 150 lawyers , court staff, litigants and the general public have been injured, many of them grievously but they have been at the receiving end of bitter and sometimes even vituperative attacks. The common rhetoric is that the lawyers are lawless, demand impunity and indulge in crass behaviour and hence deserve the “lathi” treatment.
    Just as there is degeneration in all segments of society there is undoubtedly a degeneration in the judicial system – both the Bar and Bench as well. As a nation we are witness to unruly incidents in Legislatures, the cash for votes scam, the nexus between pharmaceutical companies and doctors, the culpability of chartered accountants in the Satyam scam, the bureaucrats who have been part of various scams too numerous to list here, the complicity of high ranking police officials in the Godhra carnage, not to mention the sell out of the media. If the logic applied to lawyers is extended to all the decadent sections of society then each and every member of such sections needs a resounding thrashing including self flagellation by the police. All would agree that this is no solution to solve the ills of our society.
    One of the key issues posed by the lawyers, the High Court and the Supreme Court alike is who authorised the entry of the armed police into the High Court premises. Reports from the media that when a cognizable offence is committed, the police have every right to enter overlooks the fact that more than 500 armed police entered the court campus when lawyers had resumed work on 19.02.2009 and were attending courts peacefully. Constitutional convention based on separation of powers demands that when any offence is reported to have been committed either within the Legislature or the Courts, the executive has to obtain the consent of the Speaker or the Chief Justice, lest there occurs any inroad into the independence of the constitutional authorities. It may be recalled in the recent Law College incident, the excuse for inaction was that they were awaiting the permission of the Principal of the College
    Another argument justifying the police entry is the police station situated within the precincts. The location of a police station in the premises is beside the point. We are concerned here, not with the presence of a station house master and a writer in the High Court premises but the entry of a posse of more than 500 armed police.
    If police can routinely enter court halls it will have very dangerous implications. The Indian Evidence Act provides for client – lawyer confidentiality. Individuals accused of crimes come to court to surrender in order to avoid police custody. Lawyers often file cases which may not always be to the liking of the powers that be. It is the security of the courts which allows for fearless espousal of their client’s cases by lawyers and discharge of their duties by Judges. The legal immunity granted to Judges for acts done in the discharge of their duties will be rendered meaningless if they are in constant fear of police entering Court Halls under the guise of responding to a breach of law and order or pursuit of accused.
    There is criticism about the demand of lawyers calling for the suspension of the Commissioner of Police and the transfer of the DGP, even criticising the Supreme Court of bias in favour of lawyers. This demand is not only perfectly logical but is the general practice followed in all cases where there is enquiry into grave charges. The Commissioner of Police is today clearly in a position not only to tamper with evidence but to also threaten and silence witnesses. The fact that the Tamil Nadu Police did not register an FIR on all the incidents that occurred on 19/02/2009 indicated by the Madras High Court but registered a second FIR against lawyers as accused and forwarded this to the CBI is a clear pointer to the dangers of having the prime accused at the helm of affairs, something that has been noticed by the High Court, Madras and frowned upon in its order dated 2/03/09. Suspension is not a punishment but merely a procedural requirement to facilitate fair enquiry.
    We will be missing the woods for the trees if the incidents of 19th February 2009 are viewed merely as an issue of clash between lawyers and police settling private scores. There was clearly an assault by the State executive on the Judiciary which has shaken public faith in the judicial system. The majesty of law can never be secured if the State is permitted to vandalise the precincts of the courts and threaten judges, lawyers, staff and litigants alike. No provocation can justify such action. Mixing up the issue of lawyers’ boycott to justify the incidents of 19.02.2009 leads directly to undermining the judiciary in the State.

    The Judiciary is the only institution to protect the citizen from state excesses and the state cannot be permitted to silence the judiciary itself. There cannot be a greater indictment of the Executive than the High Court’s order that Courts cannot function because they have been damaged and destroyed. At stake is the independence and authority of the judiciary under the Constitution as protector of the rights of the common person and we lawyers have a public duty to protect this.

    We as concerned lawyers are protesting with grave concerns to avoid any erosion of the independence of Judiciary.


















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