The unsavoury incidents in the HC premises of Madras have not enhanced the reputation of Lawyers or judicial officers.
The coverage in various national newspapers and magazines have not been soft on the lawyers either.
The police anyhow did not have any great reputation to live up to.
May be, the public expects far better standards from the judiciary and lawyers than from the police.
Another version of the incidents and an opinion on the report is placed below.This has been received by email.
Srikrishna Commission’s Report is absolutely biased. Please read my comments below:
Srikrishna Committee Report on Madras High Court Mayhem
Lawyers being Court Officers form part of the justice administration system. The lawyers and judges are one family, they need to see each-other’s face in the day-to-day business of the Courts. The report of one-man Committee of Justice B.N. Srikrishna seems to have rubbed the lawyers on the wrong side. This is not only for the indictment and genaralising lawyers as hooligans and miscreants but because the report of the Committee is vitiated due to bias and onesided approach. Major part of the comments made in the report is outside the scope of the specific directions of the Supreme Court in its Order dated 26.02.2009:
1) The Supreme Court in its order has stated that “the terms of reference to the Committee shall be finally decided at the earliest by the Acting Chief justice of the Madras High Court. The Committee is silent on what terms of reference was given.
2) The Supreme Court has specifically mentioned in its Order that the Committee should report on whether any immediate action against the police officers who are allegedly allowed armed policemen to enter the premises of the High Court without permission of Acting Chief Justice. The Committee has failed to answer this point in the report.
3) While the Supreme Court directed that the Committee be given the assistance of two senior police officers attached to CBI Unit (Southern Zone) of the Madras. The report of the Committee is silent as to who are those senior police officers that assisted the Committee.
4) The report extensively deals with the incidents those have taken place commencing from November, 2008 in about eight pages of the report while the Order of the Supreme Court is specific that the Committee should inquire into the incident which happened on 19.02.2009.
5) Justice Srikrishna in his report says he had interviews, received number of written representations, affidavits, several CDs containing videos, still photographs of the incident and also recorded versions of a number of persons including concerned Hon’ble Judges of the Madras High Court. However, not a single instance of who and what such persons have stated during the course of interviews or who are the Judges those have given interviews and what they had stated was mentioned in the report.
6) The specific comments made on the Acting Chief Justice that he appears to have merely advised the lawyers to disperse peacefully, the soft-pedaling policy followed by the Madras High Court Judges has led to the present piquant situation are all uncharitable, unwarranted and outside the scope of the order of the Supreme Court. In such unpleasant and unexpected turn of events, it is but natural that no judge could have acted in a better way than the dignified way it was handled by the Madras High Court Judges, especially by the Acting Chief Justice.
7) The report says that “once the policemen were given the order to lathi charge the unruly mob of lawyers to quell them it would appear that the police interpreted it as a license to unleash mayhem at will”. This is purely a surmise of the Committee. The Committee should confine itself to what it has seen, heard or happened. Strangely, the Committee does not mention who has given the order to lathi charge.
The report is emphatic on the rampage of the police who came in armed with lathis, wore helmets and shields. The police have barged into the Court rooms of the Judges of the Small Causes Court and Family Court within the High Court complex and indulged in deliberate destruction of the tables, chairs, fans, computers, Xerox machine, and other articles. Further they went to the lawyers’ chambers not only in the High Court premises but in Linghi Chetty Street, Thambu Chetty street, Armenian street, Sunkurama Chetty Street, Kondichetty Street and Baker Street in the vicinity of the High Court, systematically barged into their chambers, caused damage and beaten up some of the lawyers. It is reported that even the lady lawyers or children’s creche were not spared. When this is so, the report does not specifically name the Police Officers at whose command the police have resorted to riots and unruly violence. Surprisingly when so much violence was reportedly resorted to by the Police in the report, the Committee gives a clean-chit to the Police commissioner “As far as the Commissioner of Police is concerned, I do not think that any blame can be laid at his door”. It is sad to note that the Committee which does not spare the lawyers or even the judges of the Madras High Court had shown such a soft-corner to the Police Commissioners who alone should be blamed for the police excesses on 19.02.2009.
9) Justice Srikrishna in his report says that the Bar Councils have not been acting as an effective regulatory body of their professional conduct and suggests that it would be ideal that the Supreme Court should take this opportunity to exercise its extra-ordinary Constitutional powers and lay down sufficient guidelines for the behavior of the lawyers within and without the Court premises and further that Advocates Act needs to be amended. If this is so, it is not understood why Justice Srikrishna does not make similar suggestions to discipline the Police who have reportedly caused the havoc in the entire episode on 19.02.2009.
Even there are many contradictory incidents that the Police Commissioner was present in the High Court premises prior to 4.30 p.m. on 19.02.2009 according to an FIR, whereas the report is categorical that the Commissioner is present only after 17.14 hrs.
It is not clear as to how Justice Srikrishna could withdraw from the Committee by merely submitting an interim report. Who will submit the final report?
These comments on the report demonstrate how the Committee went wrong on various issues and how the report is biased and one-sided. This type of reports will only rub the lawyers on the wrong side and aggravate the situation unnecessarily.