Probe begins into clash between police, lawyers in Chennai

February 28th, 2009 - 4:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Chennai, Feb 28 (IANS) A commission appointed by the Supreme Court has begun investigations into last week’s violent clashes between police and lawyers in the premises of the Madras High Court, a Tamil Nadu government statement issued here Saturday said.
Retired apex court judge B.N. Srikrishna will conduct the investigation with the assistance of two Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) officials, the statement said.

Official sources said the involvement of over 40 advocates, including Madras High Court Advocates’ Association president Paul Kanagaraj, was being probed.

Chief Secretary K.S. Sripathy, Director General of Police K.P. Jain and Chennai Police Commissioner K. Radhakrishnan were scheduled to depose before the commission.

Justice Srikrishna will inspect the high court premises Sunday, the sources added.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi appealed to lawyers boycotting courts for over a month to return to work from Monday since his government had carried out all the orders of the Supreme Court.

“Following the Supreme Court’s orders, several senior police officials have been transferred out. The government has agreed to compensate all those who suffered damages and injuries during the unfortunate violence. Therefore, lawyers should return to work,” Karunanidhi said in a statement.

“In the event of this not happening, I would be forced to think that the violence was not an offshoot of the emotional outpouring in support of suffering Lankan Tamils but an attempt to destabilise a democratically elected government,” he added.

The lawyers are dissatisfied with the measures taken by the government and have demanded the immediate suspension and transfer of Jain and Radhakrishnan as a precondition to return to work.

The government had set apart Rs.2.5 million for the commission’s expenses and an equal sum to pay for the damages to vehicles and treating injured advocates earlier this week.

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, leading the judges present - K. Chandran and P.K. Mishra - to take a serious view of the incident.

Since there had been instances of senior jurists being assaulted earlier, the court ordered the police to take remedial measures.

A day later, violence broke out in the high court after police initiated action after lawyers protested the arrest of their colleagues.

While police officials said that they had to resort to baton charge to quell rioting, lawyers claimed that several of their colleagues suffered severe head injuries.

So far, it is not known who ordered the baton charge.

Television pictures showed policemen and advocates flinging stones at each other and inflicting damages on parked vehicles in the vicinity.

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