Special Correspondent

Former Commissioner counters colleague’s assertions on court incident

CHENNAI: The police version relating to the incidents on the Madras High Court premises on February 19 has taken a new turn with the then City Police Commissioner, K. Radhakrishnan, countering the assertions by former Additional Commissioner, A.K. Viswanathan.

In an additional counter affidavit filed before a High Court Division Bench, comprising Justices F.K. Ibrahim Kalifulla and R. Banumathi, Mr. Radhakrishnan, at present Additional Director-General of Police, Law and Order, said that Mr. Viswanathan’s affidavit ought not to be relied upon. It should be “struck off the record as it is filed with personal intentions.”

The Bench is hearing petitions pertaining to the incidents.

The ADGP made it clear that the then Additional Commissioner was the chief operating officer of the city police’s law and order machinery and next in command as far as law and order was concerned. Mr. Viswanathan was deputed to the High Court to handle the situation. As a senior officer he was authorised and under a duty to deal with the situation.

“The situation was so grave and the action of ordering lathicharge against the unruly mob of advocates initiated by Mr. Viswanathan was imminent, necessary and justifiable. As Commissioner of Police, I would have also done the same thing; or for that matter any responsible police officer would have resorted to the same action.”

Mr. Radhakrishnan said it was not correct that the Additional COP had voiced concern over arresting those who wanted to surrender in connection with the incident in the court hall on February 17 when Janata Party leader Subramanian Swamy was present.

There was no occasion for any apprehension because the accused advocates had themselves contacted the concerned senior officers present and proposed to surrender.

However, as regards the incident on February 17, the High Court Registry, by a letter, had informed that the police could take action in accordance with the law on its own. The ADGP said that it was not correct to say that the Additional COP had called him and suggested that it was “prudent” to withdraw the force. “No such telephonic conversation took place.” Withdrawal of a force from a serious law and order situation was a tactical decision, which could be taken only by an officer present at the spot. Mr. Viswanathan needed no direction from anybody.

He said Mr. Viswanathan’s assertion that he (Radhakrishnan) arrived at the High Court Police Station with more than 100 armed police personnel and ordered teargas shells to be lobbed at 4.45 p.m., followed by lathicharge, was totally wrong. Video recording would show that teargas was used and lathis wielded around 4 p.m., long before his entry into the riot area around 5 p.m.

It was baseless and incorrect to say that the “entire operation” on February 19 was commanded by him, Mr. Radhakrishnan stated.