Contempt petition against 90 personnel in Puducherry
Policemen staging a dharna in a court complex is a disturbing trend in society. Those entrusted with the task of enforcing law, themselves were instrumental in breaking law and order.
This is what the Madras High Court has observed in its order on a petition about suo motu contempt against nearly 90 police personnel who staged a dharna on the premises of the District and Sessions Court, Puducherry on December 19, 2008.
However, the First Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice, Satish K. Agnihotri, and Justice K. K. Sasidharan accepted the unconditional apology tendered by the police personnel and closed the contempt proceedings with a warning that such things should not recur.
Trouble started after a Sub-Inspector of Orleanpet police station, Sreedharan, was denied bail by a Special Judge. He was arrested by the CBI’s Anti-Corruption wing, Chennai unit. Protesting the denial of bail to their colleague, policemen raised slogans and used derogatory language against the Special Judge. The agitating policemen even lathicharged photo journalists who took pictures of the protest. Some journalists were injured and their cameras destroyed. The agitators even refused to obey the orders of their superiors, including Inspector-General of Police.
The Special Judge (CBI cases) submitted a detailed report to the High Court. Following this, suo motu contempt proceedings were initiated against the policemen who were involved. Even though there were about 200 police personnel who were involved, only 92 could be identified.
The Bench observed that sit-ins and shouting slogans against the Judge were all intimidating tactics to exert pressure on him which could not be countenanced. It was rather astonishing that the police did not obey even the Inspector-General of Police’s direction.
Since the policemen tendered an unconditional apology, the Bench said, it was taking a lenient view of the matter. The Bench quashed a Union Territory G.O. of December 26, 2008 appointing a Commission of Inquiry to go into the incident, without consulting the High Court.