Two top Chennai policemen suspended over attack on lawyers (Lead)

March 19th, 2009 - 12:19 am ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 18 (IANS) The Tamil Nadu government Wednesday suspended two senior police officials for their role in the clashes with lawyers a month ago, but some advocates expressed dissatisfaction over the move terming it as “too little, too late”, while a lawyers’ association said they were happy and would attend the courts from Monday.
The bench comprising former chief justice S. Mukhopadhyay, V. Dhanapalan and K. Chandru also asked the agitating advocates to return to work immediately.

A government source said police officials A.K. Vishwanathan (additional commissioner of police) and J. Rama Subramani (former joint commissioner since transferred to Coimbatore) were being placed under suspension.

T. Mohan, an activist lawyer spearheading the movement against policemen, said they were unhappy with the action.

“Is this not too little too late? The Home Secretary (S. Malathy) admitted on record that Vishwanathan was in charge until Commissioner (K.) Radhakrishnan arrived on the scene Feb 19.

“Not only Vishwanathan but Director General of Police (K.P.) Jain, Additional DGP (Law and Order) T. Rajendran and Radhakrishnan ought to have been suspended and arrested for masterminding the predetermined attack on lawyers,” Mohan told IANS.

“The lawyers’ struggle for justice will not yield or lie dormant until all the guilty police officers are brought to book and pay the penalty for the assault on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law,” Mohan added.

Many lawyers expressed happiness with the move and said their protest rally Thursday would turn into one of celebrating “a well-earned triumph of law and justice”.

“It is a well-earned triumph for justice, law and democracy. From now on police officials will think twice before breaking the law anywhere - especially within the precincts of the Madras High Court. Heeding the judges’ request to return to work, most of us would be attending courts from Monday,” S. Prabhakaran, former president of the Madras High Court Advocates’ Association, told reporters.

“Our rally tomorrow (Thursday) will be peaceful,” Prabhakaran told IANS.

Meanwhile, sources in the Central Bureau of Investigation probing the clashes told IANS on condition of anonymity that First Information Reports accusing at least 30 advocates and over 11 police officials are “almost ready”.

“Though the court has slammed policemen, the fact remains that lawyers too were at fault. After all, many were seen on television vandalising vehicles and many took part in the burning down of the police station. The FIR is almost ready,” the source told IANS.

Commissioner of Police K. Radhakrishnan told the court in an affidavit that Vishwanathan and Subramani were responsible for ordering baton charge on lawyers twice in the high court premises without proper authorisation Feb 19.

The violence had resulted in injuries to over 50 lawyers and a judge and led to destruction of public property, including government and private vehicles, and the burning of a police station within the precincts of the Madras High Court.

Retired Supreme Court judge B.N. Srikrishna had blamed the lawyers and police officials in his interim report submitted to the apex court. But advocates in Tamil Nadu and Puducherry rejected the report. Work in courts has come to a halt since February.

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