The Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered the release on conditional bail 20 advocates who were arrested here and in Madurai in connection with their demand for making Tamil the language of the High Court.

Thirteen of them, including seven in Chennai, were arrested for going on a fast on High Court premises.

In its order, a specially constituted Bench consisting of Justices F.M.Ibrahim Kalifulla and Prabha Sridevan, said the petitioners should be enlarged on bail subject to the condition that they should not indulge in hunger strike, shout slogans, take out procession or display banners, distribute pamphlets or any other demonstration of such kind or bringing in politicians to address meetings or any other activity except discharging their duties as lawyers in the High Court and other court premises in the State.

The Bench also made it clear that the bail granted was subject to other conditions imposed in an earlier order of a Division Bench last year in which the court had said that the ban imposed on anyone to hold meetings on the High Court campus other than regular meetings of the association or any special meetings in the association premises should be strictly adhered to. No political party affiliation should be permitted inside the High Court and other court premises in the State.

The bail would be granted on the advocates' own bond to the satisfaction of the Superintendents of Central Prisons, Madurai, Puzhal and for Women at Puzhal.

The Bench recorded the undertaking that the petitioners would break their fast on Wednesday itself. The advocates should adhere to the conditions, including the undertaking given in the applications.

If any condition was violated, the bail would stand instantaneously cancelled. The Bench said it was learnt that even after taking into custody by police, except three women lawyers, the rest of advocates were continuing their fast as on date.

While considering the objection by the Public Prosecutor, “we feel that taking note of the situation prevailing as on date, the health condition of the petitioners due to hunger strike and also the unconditional undertaking expressed by the petitioners, they can be released on bail subject, however, to further conditions to be imposed by this court.”

Demonstration

A group of advocates staged a demonstration on Wednesday in support of the demand and the unconditional release of the arrested advocates.