Huge barricades, a video camera capturing the judges and the court room, loudspeakers and a 55-cm LED TV — it was a historic event on Wednesday inside the Madras High Court premises after it decided to telecast the court proceedings live for the first time in its history.
The reason that led to this live telecast, which also went on-air on leading national and Tamil news channels, was the contempt of court proceedings against two Madurai Bar Association leaders — A Dharmaraj and A K Ramasamy — over the anti-helmet ruling rally by Madurai lawyers last month.
In fact, it was the last resort taken by the judges to ensure trouble-free court proceedings. On September 16, during the last hearing in the case against the bar leaders, a busload of advocates from Madurai had landed in Chennai and created ruckus on the court campus, evading barricades and all security arrangements, after the judges prevented their entry inside the court hall.
Several senior lawyers criticised the live screening, saying the court should not have succumbed to the “intimidation” by unruly lawyers.
“It would set a bad precedent. There should be a mechanism to ensure security of the court proceedings,” said a senior lawyer.
However, a senior HC officer said they had no other option as the police arrangements were a failure the last time despite advance alerts to deploy security.
“On September 16, some 150 lawyers surrounded Court No. 4 and created an intimidating situation. Many of them wanted to show their disrespect to judges, who heard the case of their leaders, and raised slogans, disrupting court procedures. Though we had advance information about such a situation and asked the police to install CCTV cameras and place barricades, the police failed to manage the unruly lawyers. So there was no other solution than installing these television sets outside,” he said.
The bench comprising Justice S Tamilvanan and Justice C T Selvam, who heard the case, referred it to Chief Justice of the High Court after they disagreed on giving the final verdict. While Justice Tamilvanan suggested that the case may be referred to a larger bench, Justice Selvam had a different opinion.
It was Justice Tamilvanan and Justice Selvam who had decided to telecast the court proceedings live.