Tension continues at Madras High Court

Tight police security prevented other advocates from entering the court hall, a move which angered advocates.

Updated - December 04, 2021 11:20 pm IST

Published - September 16, 2015 04:06 pm IST - Chennai

Two days after it witnessed a sit-in dharna in the First Bench resulting in the arrest of 10 advocates, tension prevailed in the Madras High Court campus again on Wednesday, as several advocates attempted to lay siege to Court Hall-4, after they were denied entry into the hall, where the hearing of the contempt proceedings against two office-bearers of the Madurai Bar Association were in progress.

Though there was a protest by the advocates, who had travelled from Madurai near Aavin gate in the morning, it was the stir in the afternoon inside the building that disturbed the normalcy in the campus.

There was heavy police presence in and around the High Court premises as per the court order in view of the significant hearing on Wednesday.

The situation near the court hall grew tense around 1.30 p.m., when a group of advocates attempted to enter the hall and were eventually prevented by the police. As their attempts to meet the Registrar General proved futile, they gathered near the entrance to the hall.

As more advocates were adding up to the protestors and raised slogans demanding to be let inside the court, Justices S. Tamilvanan and C.T. Selvam entered the hall with tight security by the police, who had to surround them to avoid any possible altercation.

The situation turned worse, as another group of advocates raised slogans in support of the judges and the in-camera proceedings, exposing a lack of unity among advocates.

N.G.R. Prasad, who was to represent the second contemnor — A.K. Ramasamy — said, “As per the directives of the Apex Court in-camera proceedings can be conducted only in exceptional cases, all other hearings should be public.”

Stating that public hearing and reasoning for judgment are the two pillars of judicial democracy, Mr. Prasad said, “If the court apprehends law and order situation, the proceeding could be regulated by deploying additional police force, but a blanket ban restraining other people particularly advocates from entering the court cannot be justified.”

The police had to form a human chain in two rows to safely escort the judges, after they adjourned the case to September 30.

When asked to comment on the incident, Justice K. Chandru, retired judge of Madras High Court told The Hindu over phone that “The Bench should show its firmness while imposing penalty” and further termed the in-camera hearing an ‘unwanted’ move.

Making it clear that there is no express bar in conducting such hearings publicly, the former judge said, “Only in few cases like family disputes and rape cases there is a legal bar to conduct the proceedings in public. But ultimately it is left to the presiding judge to decide on the manner of conducting a hearing.”

The order

Conducting the proceedings amidst continuous sloganeering by the advocates outside the court hall, the Bench of Justices S. Tamilvanan and C.T. Selvam said, “This court has urged to take serious note of the grave and improper conduct of several persons, indulged on several days between the last hearing and today.”

Considering the submissions made by R.C. Paul Kanagaraj, counsel for the A. Dharmarajan, the Bench dispensed the appearance of the contemnor for the hearing, making it clear that he should be present before the court in the next hearing.

“Have you been adjudged insolvent by a Sub Court in Madurai,” the judges questioned while posing seven other questions to the s

Noting that Mr. Ramasamy failed to afford direct answers and was evasive and wanted to consult his counsel for answering the questions, the Bench said, “The answers are improper and not convincing,” and allowed him to provide answers for the questions in the next hearing.

While directing the Registrar-Judicial of the court to file a report on the criminal cases pending against Mr. Ramasamy and their present status, the court also directed the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry to state whether Mr. Ramasamy has brought to the notice of the Council about having been declared insolvent and as to other details as to whether his name has been struck off from the electoral roll and whether he had participated in elections to the Bar.

Advocates S.R. Rajagopalan, Dalit Tiger Ponnusamy and K. Arumugam who are impleaded in the contempt proceeding as interveners have been provided one armed escort security each by the court.

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