Clash between Lawyers and Police In Chennai

Pitched battles were fought outside the Madras high court on Thursday afternoon after the police arrested 17 lawyers for attacking Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy.

As police used baton on lawyers who were protesting and shouting slogans, about 30 lawyers and several bystanders were injured, witnesses said. 

A division bench of the court on Thursday morning ordered that a five-judge bench would hold an enquiry into the attack on Swamy by advocates inside the court premises on Tuesday.Lawyers sympathetic to the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on Tuesday hurled rotten eggs at Swamy inside the court in the presence of the judges and shouted anti-India slogans.


One response to this post.

  1. Posted by vskesavan on March 4, 2009 at 4:37 am

    Press release sent out yesterday, which media ignored
    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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