Assertions by two senior police officers, one blaming the other for the police action on the High Court premises on February 19, continued with the then Additional Commissioner, A.K. Viswanathan, reiterating that it was only Chennai Commissioner K. Radhakrishnan, who ordered the lathicharge.
Mr. Viswanathan’s reply came nearly a week after Mr. Radhakrishnan in his additional counter affidavit asserted that the then Additional COP, who was deputed to the High Court to handle the situation, had ordered lathicharge against the unruly mob of advocates.
In his reply affidavit filed before a Division Bench comprising Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and R. Banumathi, Mr. Viswanathan said it was only after the arrival of the Commissioner with additional reinforcements around 4.30 p.m. that teargas was fired and only Mr. Radhakrishnan ordered the lathicharge. Till then, as directed by the Commissioner over the phone, the police were chasing the advocates and returning to the High Court police station to protect themselves.
The then Additional COP charged that Mr. Radhakrishnan had made incorrect allegations against him. He said that around 1 p.m. on February 19, Prem Anand Sinha, Deputy Commissioner, Flower Bazaar, told him on the phone that he was apprehensive of accepting the surrender by advocates. Mr. Viswanathan said he called Mr. Radhakrishnan and told him that it would lead to trouble, but the Commissioner brushed aside his suggestion stating that the Acting Chief Justice had already cleared the arrest of advocates (involved in an incident in a court hall when Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy was there.) It was Mr. Radhakrishnan and the Joint Commissioner, M. Ramasubramani, who mobilised the police force.
Mr. Viswanathan said he saw the arrested advocates being removed. He told the Commissioner that it would be prudent to withdraw the entire police force from the High Court premises. Mr. Radhakrishnan did not heed this suggestion. He was not only giving instructions to him but also to other officers present in the High Court police station. Mr. Radhakrishnan’s report of March 18 had been “contrived by him to protect himself and implicate me falsely.”
Mr. Radhakrishnan had falsely alleged that Mr. Viswanathan was in command of the situation from 3 p.m. onwards. It was also falsely stated that Mr. Viswanathan consulted other officers and took a decision to declare the assembly as unlawful. The Commissioner’s report stated that additional reinforcements were rushed in to control the situation. This was not correct. The Commissioner reached the High Court police station with additional reinforcements which included the Joint Commissioner, South and Deputy Commissioners of Adyar, Anna Nagar, T. Nagar and Mylapore. Mr. Viswanathan said there was no declaration or announcement by him declaring the assembly as unlawful after 3.45 p.m.
Meanwhile, in his arguments, the Madras Bar Association president, R. Krishnamoorthy, said the police officer who ordered the lathicharge should be identified and action taken against him. Counsel N.G.R. Prasad said the police action on lawyers was a case of “State excess.” The lawyers’ agitation on the Sri Lankan Tamils issue was causing embarrassment to the government.
V. Raghavachari described the police action as an act of terror. Action should be taken against the police concerned under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.