Chief justice, senior lawyer depose before Srikrishna Commission

March 1st, 2009 - 7:40 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, March 1 (IANS) Madras High Court’s acting Chief Justice S. Mukhopadhyay, Advocate General G. Masilamani and senior counsel R. Gandhi Sunday deposed before the Srikrishna Commission probing the Feb 19 clashes between lawyers and police in the high court premises.
Gandhi later told reporters that the advocates were insistent on boycotting courts till Director General of Police K.P. Jain, city Police Commissioner K. Radhakrishnan and other officials were suspended and departmental proceedings initiated against them.

“While we are not stopping anyone from practising in the courts, our boycott of courts will continue till the guilty officials, including the police officials violating the law by brutally assaulting unarmed lawyers, are suspended and prosecuted,” Gandhi said.

B.N. Srikrishna, a retired Supreme Court judge, was asked by the apex court last week to probe the violent clashes in the high court premises here.

Srikrishna heard lawyers and police personnel and inspected the court premises Saturday, according to a government press statement.

Meanwhile, even as police officials handed over additional information to present their side of the story to the commission, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials inspected the high court premises and recorded evidence as part of the central government’s endeavour to identify the origin of violence, according to police sources.

In a separate development, Leader of Opposition and AIADMK chief J. Jayalalitha slammed Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi for dubbing the lawyer-police clashes “attempts to destabilise the DMK government”.

“Karunanidhi is attempting to shift the blame by lending a non-existent political colour to his miserable failure in maintaining law and order, despite his holding the home portfolio,” Jayalalitha said, according to a party statement.

Police officials claimed that they entered the court premises Feb 19 to quell lawlessness by advocates under the pretext of support to suffering Lankan Tamils, which had resulted in destruction of vital evidence in a police station inside the court campus.

Lawyers denied these charges and said the “brutal baton charges that left many unarmed lawyers and judges injured reminded many of the Jallianwallah Bagh massacre of the innocents by the colonial British.”

Television visuals had shown both advocates and police flinging stones at each other and causing damages to parked vehicles in the vicinity.

Srikrishna is expected to submit an interim report shortly and the final version within two months.

Though the trouble began Feb 18, when Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy was pelted with eggs by a group of advocates in front of a division bench of the Madras High Court, its origins lay earlier when a few lawyers boycotting proceedings assaulted a senior counsel and his wife during their arguments Jan 29.

According to a police statement, the first information report registered on the basis of counsel’s subsequent written complaint was part of a number of documents reduced to ashes during arson on Feb 19.

Meanwhile, in Salem, 300 km southwest of here, P. Paramasivam, chairman of the Federation of District and Subordinate Courts Bar Associations of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, told reporters after the general body meeting of his organisation that there was no question of suspending the lawyers’ agitation till the issue of police personnel’s “barbaric attacks on peaceful lawyers is not resolved by punitive action”.

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