Holding four police officers, including the then Chennai City Commissioner, K. Radhakrishnan, responsible for the clash between police and lawyers that occurred on the High Court premises on February 19 this year, the Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu Government to initiate disciplinary proceedings against them. The incidents had left several persons, including a High Court Judge, injured.

Besides Mr. Radhakrishnan, the then Additional Commissioner, A.K.Viswanathan; the Joint Commissioner (North), M.Ramasubramani; and the Deputy Commissioner, Flower Bazaar, Prem Anand Sinha were responsible for police excesses, the court said.

In its over 500-page common order disposing of petitions relating to the incidents, a Division Bench comprising Justices F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and R. Banumathi said that in order to enable a fair and unbiased enquiry it would be in order for the State government to exercise its discretion to place the officers under suspension pending disciplinary action.

The Commissioner of Police had miserably failed in his responsibility and duty to protect the interests of the public. Instead he made himself responsible for the “most imprudent act of creating a situation of lawlessness which ultimately resulted in very ghastly incidents to take place and thereby created a blot on the institution, namely judiciary.”

The court said that prima facie a case was made out against the four officers that they had caused obstruction in the administration of justice. Contempt proceedings had to be necessarily initiated against them. It ordered issue of contempt notice to the officers for alleged excesses including deployment of additional armed forces inside the High Court campus on February 19 after 11.30 a.m. — after Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy had left the premises and that too without intimation/permission of the Registry. The police entered various courts in the guise of chasing lawyers and caused extensive damage to property such as vehicles, buildings and association libraries and furniture.

The violent acts of the police undermined the majesty of the institution, the Bench said. It observed that after the incidents, public opinion was very much against the lawyers. The lawyers needed to dispel the impression that they were a “law unto themselves.” They should rise up to restore the glory and their public image. “We hope that there will be no strike/call for boycott hereafter.”

The court directed the Central Bureau of Investigation, investigating two cases, one against lawyers and the other against the police, to proceed with the investigation expeditiously and file the final report within three months.