J. Venkatesan

Situation in Chennai is whether the black gown has any respect at all: Soli Sorabjee

Judges should have transferred this case without any hesitation: Bench

New Delhi:The Supreme Court on Wednesday stayed contempt of court proceedings initiated by the Madras High Court against three senior police officers, K. Radhakrishnan, M. Ramasubramanian and Premanand Sinha, in connection with the violence on the High Court premises on February 19, 2009.

A Bench of Justices G.S. Singhvi and A.K. Ganguly stayed the proceedings on petitions filed by the IPS officers seeking transfer of the cases to some other High Court and stay of further proceedings.

It earlier heard senior counsel Soli Sorabjee and Anil Divan and counsel G. Sivabalamurugan for the petitioners.

Mr. Sorabjee, pleading for stay of further proceedings said: ?The situation in Chennai is whether the black gown has any respect at all. Recently, when the Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan [since retired] and the Chief Minister [M. Karunanidhi] were in Chennai for the inauguration of a Dr. Ambedkar statue, lawyers did not allow the Chief Minister to speak. I am very much pained. What is happening in a Chartered High Court? Lawyers don't allow anyone to appear for these officers.?

When counsel Jayant Muth Raj, appearing for the Tamil Nadu Advocates Association, submitted that it was a party to the proceedings before the High Court and should be heard, counsel for the petitioners pointed out that only the Registrar General of the High Court had been cited as respondent.

The Bench allowed Mr. Raj to make his submissions saying he could file an application for impleadment.

Mr. Raj said that in the application given by the petitioners to the (then) Chief Justice of the High Court that the Bench of Justices F.M. Ibrahim Khalifullah and R. Banumathi should not hear the matter, there was not a single allegation against lawyers and the matter was ready for arguments.

Justice Singhvi said: ?The moment such an application is given the judges should have transferred this case without any hesitation. There was no reason to keep the case with them.?

Taking a dig at a section of the members of the Bar, Justice Singhvi said: ?You don't allow a private person [in an apparent reference to the incident involving Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy] to argue himself in the court. You catch him by his neck and throw him out.?

In their transfer petitions, the police officers submitted that they had a reasonable apprehension that justice would not be done if the proceedings were conducted before the Madras High Court.

Though the Supreme Court had stayed the recommendation of the High Court regarding departmental action and the suspension proceedings, the advocates protested against the participation of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister for not taking action against the police officers involved in the February 19, 2009 incident.

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