J. Venkatesan

It had suggested their suspension in connection with lathi charge on lawyers

SLP stated that the order had been passed in violation of natural justice

NEW DELHI: Two senior Tamil Nadu IPS officers, whose suspension was suggested by the Madras High Court in connection with the lathi charge on lawyers on February 19, moved the Supreme Court on Saturday seeking to quash the March 18 order.

The special leave petition (SLP) filed by A.K. Viswanathan, Additional Commissioner of Police, Law and Order, Chennai, and M. Ramasubramani, Deputy Inspector General of Police, Coimbatore Range (he was the Joint Commissioner of police (North), Chennai on the day of the incident), also sought interim stay of operation of the order.

The SLP stated that the order had been passed in violation of natural justice and in a manner so as to placate the striking High Court lawyers. The High Court finding about the petitioners being at the helm of affairs was without factual basis since no inquiry had been held and no material placed before it to come to such a conclusion.

The officers stated that they had been ordered to be suspended, thereby punishing them without affording an opportunity of hearing. They were not parties to the suo motu writ petition. “Moreover, it is surprising how the High Court came to the conclusion on a prima facie basis that the petitioners were at the helm of affairs, under whose direct supervision the operation was carried out, when the Justice Srikrishna Report (submitted pursuant to the orders passed by the Supreme Court) had clearly held that unless a detailed enquiry was held, it would be difficult to pinpoint the responsibility of each individual.”

The SLP stated that when the prayer for suspension had been declined by the Supreme Court, there was no occasion for the High Court to act on the same list of officers given by the lawyers and without notice to the petitioners.

“The petitioners are apprehensive of even entering the High Court premises since a large number of lawyers are always present in the court room and are in an agitated mood. They have a threat to their lives and no advocate will be willing to appear for them in the High Court,” and hence they were constrained to move the Supreme Court.

The SLP raised substantial questions of law, including whether a High Court could suo motu take cognisance and order suspension of persons who were not parties before it. The High Court had failed to appreciate that the direction passed by it would cause grave prejudice since their service record would be marred and leave a stigma for all times to come. “This will be entered into the service records of the petitioners and will affect their future growth in their service which, hitherto, is unblemished,” the SLP said.

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