Court summons them on July 29, says police failed to inform District Judge of magistrate's arrest
Initiating contempt proceedings on its own against police officers who arrested a magistrate recently, the Madras High Court on Tuesday issued notices to them to appear personally before the Bench on July 29 at 10.30 a.m. and explain their conduct or stand.
S. Thangaraj, Judicial Magistrate, Fast Track Court, Coonoor, was arrested by Palladam police on charges of sexual assault and criminal intimidation based on a complaint filed by Uma Maheswari, a sub-inspector of police. The magistrate’s arrest created ripples among legal fraternity.
On Tuesday, the First Bench, comprising Acting Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice M. Sathyanarayanan observed, “By this action, they had lowered the authority of the court in the eyes of the general public which, prima facie, amounts to contempt of court.”
“Blatant misuse of powers and showing scant regard and disrespect to the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court in the case of Delhi Judicial Service Association vs. State of Gujarat (dealing with the arrest of a judicial officer) has compelled us to take suo motu action for committing contempt by five police officers and three constables who accompanied the officers,” they reasoned.
From the sequence of events, the judges said, “It is apparent that the police officers have deliberately violated the guidelines issued by the Supreme Court, more particularly guideline A. (which says if a judicial officer is to be arrested for some offence, it should be done under intimation to the District Judge or the High Court).”
Even though the judicial officer was arrested at 8.45 am on that day, the Bench noted that the District Judge was kept in the dark. No intimation was given to him before the magistrate’s arrest or immediately after his arrest. The District Judge was just told that the investigation was going on, but the actual information about his arrest, which took place at 8.45 a.m., was given to him only at 12.30 p.m.
The Bench also directed the registry to serve the notices through the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tirupur, to the police officers including R. Ponni, Superintendent of Police, Tirupur.
A sub-inspector, All Women Police Station, Palladam, an Inspector, Komarapalayam, two Deputy Superintendents of Police in Udumalpet and Palladam will also be issued notices asking them to appear.
Earlier in the day, the court halls on the Madras High Court premises wore deserted look in view of the boycott by lawyers’ association demanding that contempt proceedings be initiated against the police officers. Across the State, court work was crippled due to the boycott.