Maintaining that the attack on lawyers by the Tamil Nadu Police inside the Madras High Court on February 19 should not go unpunished,the joint action committee of bar associations has pleaded with the High Court to initiate criminal contempt proceedings against senior officials reposnsible. The move comes even as the Chief Minister M Karunanidhi ordered an investigation by a senior official into the incident in an apparent bid to appease the advocates.
The advocates,who faced the stick on that day,pleaded with the High Court full bench to suspend 15 senior officials including the City Police Commissioner K Radhakrishnan for attacking advocates,judges and court staff as well as for destruction of property. They also called for the transfer of state DGP K P Jain.
Senior counsel T V Ramanujun,appearing for the Madras High Court Advocates Association,also sought contempt proceedings against Chief Secretary K S Sripathy,Home Secretary S Malathi and seniors police officials including the DGP. The Government,he argued,had not included the violence and destruction by police or the background behind the entry and deployment of armed police inside the court premises in the FIR referred to the CBI for inquiry,contrary to the HC order the same evening. The normal functioning of the legal fraternity,fulfiling its constitutional obligations,would be impossible if the act went unpunished,said the counsel,pleading for suspension of officials. The full bench,comprising Chief Justice Gokhale and Justice F M Ibrahim Kalifulla,directed the association to place its plea before the regular Bench,which will hear the case on Wednesday.
The protest by advocates,reinvigorated since February 19,is continuing except for the Government advocates and those owing allegiance to the DMKs legal wing who have decided to resume work from Wednesday. However,sources said at least the court boycott may soon come to an end with the association carrying on its struggle through other means of protest. But the section of advocates who were attacked though they were not party to the protest are also insisting on punishing the erring personnel,they said.
Meanwhile,jails across the state are overflowing,forcing the police to leave petty offenders on their own bail as there is no way of chargesheeting them in the present circumstances.
With the tide of a constitutional crisis gradually receding,what has gone to the backburner is the Sri Lankan Tamil issue,for which the protests originally began. When protests gathered against the war,lawyers were in the forefront of the agitations,highlighting the humanitarian issue involved. The war in Sri Lanka,meanwhile,is going on.