“You have respect for the institution and your profession, and think of the plight of the sad litigants. You don’t do such things in future.”
“Advocates shall not disturb proceedings”
No armed force shall enter court premises without permission of the Chief Justice of the High Court
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday asked lawyers in Tamil Nadu to resume work immediately in view of the appointment of the Justice Srikrishna Committee to probe into the February 19 incidents.
A three-Judge Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan and Justices P. Sathasivam and J.M. Panchal, in its order, said: “The advocates shall not cause any disturbance of the court proceedings and shall not shout slogans in the court premises. No meetings will be held in the court premises without the permission of the Chief Justice. However, they can have their meetings in their association premises. We hope all the associations will withdraw the strike at the earliest and attend court work.”
During the hearing, the CJI told counsel: “Whatever may be your grievance, lawyers have no business to interrupt court proceedings.” Referring to the attack on Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy inside the court hall on February 17, the CJI said: “How can anybody attack a private person inside the court? You seniors should have prevented those lawyers from indulging in these things. You also own up responsibility for not preventing such incidents.”
Pouring his heart out, the CJI told the leaders of the Bar: “We all belong to the same judicial system. You have respect for the institution and your profession, and think of the plight of the sad litigants. You don’t do such things in future. There should not be any shouting of slogans. You evolve a code of conduct for yourself.”
The Bench made it clear that the transfer of four officers was being suggested to facilitate a fair enquiry by the committee and without prejudice to their rights. The committee appointed by the High Court would go into matters relating to medical facilities to the injured advocates and reasonable compensation for the injured. The cars and two-wheelers damaged allegedly by the police should either be repaired or compensation be paid and to be assessed by the committee appointed by the High Court.
As regards the High Court building and other buildings in the same campus, furniture, computers and other articles, the Bench said these should be assessed by the committee and the State would do the needful to repair the same. The State government was directed to put at the disposal of the High Court a sum of Rs.25 lakh for immediate relief and repair work.
The Bench said: “Necessary police protection to the Judges and, for smooth functioning of the High Court, required policemen should be deployed as per the order of the Chief Justice of the High Court, but no armed force shall enter the court premises without the permission of the Chief Justice of the High Court. In view of this order, the appointment of retired Judge of the Madras High Court as the committee by the State shall stand dissolved.”
Earlier, Solicitor-General G.E. Vahanvati brought to the notice of the Bench that the police station inside the court campus was located pursuant to a judicial order passed by the High Court. While there was a need to identify the police personnel who exceeded the limits, he said action was also required to identify advocates who led and indulged in violence.
Senior counsel K. Subramaniam and R. Gandhi and advocates S. Prabhakaran, Vaigai, Paul Kanakaraj, R. Karuppan and K. Santhakumari said Chennai Police Commissioner K. Radhakrishnan, who led the lathicharge, should be suspended if work was to resume. Senior counsel K.K. Venugopal, appearing for the High Court, said police remained in the campus even after the acting Chief Justice asked the Commissioner to withdraw the police force.
Mr. Vahanvati said suspension of senior police officers without giving them an opportunity would affect the morale of the police and would send wrong signals.
The CJI said: “We are not accepting the report submitted by the Solicitor-General. Let the Enquiry Committee submits its report. We will consider taking action on the erring officers.” The Bench posted the matter for further hearing on March 3.