Staff Reporter

They allegedly detained judicial officers, court staff and litigants in Nagercoil

MADURAI: The Madras High Court Bench here on Monday granted unconditional bail to six advocates, who were arrested on March 19 for allegedly detaining judicial officers, court staff and litigants on the district court premises at Nagercoil.

Acting on a complaint lodged by the Personal Assistant to the District Judge, the Kottar police had registered a case against 75 lawyers for locking the main gate to the court until 8.30 p.m. The lawyers were agitating against the prosecution of a local advocate for allegedly mowing down two Highways Department officials and a policeman who were removing an encroachment at Udayarvilai on February 6.

Allowing the bail applications, Justice S. Nagamuthu said: “Lawyers have a right to agitate for a just cause, but it does not mean that they have an unfettered right to prevent the litigant public from attending their cases. Preventing the judges to perform their duties also cannot be accepted or tolerated in any manner.”

However, he ordered their release on bail, despite strong objections raised by the government advocate R. Siva Ayyappan, because petitioners’ counsel denied that their clients had detained the judicial officers and others. They alleged that the police had locked the gates and shifted the blame on lawyers.

A battery of lawyers, including R.K. Chandramohen, Chairman, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry; M. Ajmal Khan, president, Madurai Bench High Court Advocates Association (MBHAA); M. Subash Babu, secretary, MBHAA; Isaac Mohanlal, president, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court Bar Association (MMBA); C. Arul Vadivel, joint secretary, Madras High Court Madurai Bench Advocates Association (MAHAA), and D. Nallathambi, secretary, Madurai Bar Association, argued for the bail applicants. They assured the High Court that the Nagercoil lawyers would not indulge in any kind of agitation on the issue and would resume work from Tuesday. Counsel also said that the issue would be settled amicably through talks between the judicial officers and advocates. Recording their undertaking, Mr. Justice Nagamuthu directed the police not to arrest any other lawyer in connection with the case for the next three weeks in order to facilitate the talks. Advocates in the Madurai Bench suspended work on Tuesday to show their solidarity with their counterparts.