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Chaos descended on the Madras High Court campus yesterday as protesting advocates filled the corridors with slogans alleging corruption among judges, and disrupting proceedings in their wake.
This comes just two days after a group of advocates held a sit-in protest in Chief Justice Kaul’s court, and demanding Tamil to be made the official court language. Later that day, Justice Kaul would suo motu order the state government to provide CISF protection for judges of the High Court, expressing concern for the judges’ safety.
On Wednesday, advocates protested against not being allowed to witness the contempt proceedings initiated by the high court suo motu against two Madurai advocates – AK Ramasamy and A Dharmarajan. The contempt case stems from an order passed by the high court in June, making it mandatory for riders of two-wheeler vehicles and pillion riders to wear helmets.
Speaking to Bar & Bench, advocate Paul C Kanagaraj, who appeared for A Dharmarajan said,
“There was an order passed by Justice Kirubakaran regarding the helmet rule. This was disliked by advocates and the general public. The Madurai Bar Association passed a resolution against the order and certain writings wounded the judge, so he had initiated suo motu action.”
Reportedly, hordes of lawyers from the Madurai Bar Association turned up at the Madras High Court campus as a show of solidarity for the contemnors. As a pre-emptive measure, heavy security was deployed at the campus to prevent untoward incidents. Protesting advocates were not allowed to enter Court Hall 4, where the contempt proceedings took place.
Though news reports state that the proceedings took place in camera, Kanagaraj claims that the court later did away with the decision to conduct the proceedings in camera and only restricted the entry of advocates.
As regards the proceedings, the bench has posted the matter for September 30, after taking note that AK Ramasamy had failed to give answers to questions posed by the judges. The bench of Justices S Tamilvanam and CT Selvam also directed the Registrar to ascertain whether Ramasamy had any criminal antecedents.
The Madras High Court has witnessed multiple instances of indiscipline among advocates in the recent past. And this is something Chief Justice Kaul has taken serious note of in the order he passed along with Justice Sivagnanam on Monday. The order states,
“It is time that such unhealthy practice[s] are curtailed…The Judges must feel secure while administering justice and thus, proper security has to be arranged to prevent such incidents, which not only disrupt the functioning of the Court, but can result in security breaches when Courts are concerned with sensitive matters, especially a Court like the present High Court and its Bench.”
The same order reveals the demand for CISF or similar protection on the high court campus made by the Security Committee, which is headed by Justice Kaul. This demand was made in light of the strained relations between the police and the advocates. The minutes of the Security Committee meeting dated July 7 reveals how the behaviour of certain advocates has gotten out of hand.
Despite repeated requests by the police, some of the indiscretions listed in the minutes include advocates parking their vehicles on main/arterial roads, passing lewd comments against women police personnel, giving false complaints against clients who don’t agree to pay high fees, taking liquor into the campus, and organizing Katta Panchayats (Kangaroo Courts).
Read the order dated September 14: