The high drama witnessed in the Madras High Court campus on Monday with lawyers entering the First Bench and staging a protest just few feet away from the judges has evoked mixed response from the legal fraternity on whether police need to seek permission to act within the campus and if the court premises require CISF cover.
“It is true as there is an order of a Division Bench of the High Court requiring police to obtain prior permission from the Chief Justice to enter the premise,” retired judge of the Madras High Court Justice K. Chandru said.
Citing the directives issued by a Division Bench of the Madras High Court, Justice F.M. Ibrahim Kalifulla and Justice R. Banumathi in 2010, Justice Chandru said, “The Bench held that though there is no law that restrains police from entering the HC or to take action when a cognisable offence happens on the premises, the dignity of the institution requires the police to seek permission of the Chief Justice to enter the campus.” It would be contempt if the officials breach this directive of the court, he added.
Calling Monday’s incident as “uncivilised,” the former judge stressed the need to move other lower and family courts from the HC campus, paving the way for tighter security of the premises.
While coming out against such protests inside court halls, R.C. Paul Kanagaraj, president of Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) said, “I would make it clear that the MHAA is completely against such activities. But as far as CISF protection to the court is concerned, most of the advocates do not want a Central agency protection to the campus for many reasons. So, we have decided to convene a general body meeting to discuss the issue and make suggestions to the High Court.”
Meanwhile, S. Prabakaran, president, Tamil Nadu Advocates Association said, “We welcome the order of the High Court seeking CISF protection to the campus. In fact it would improve security of the lawyers in the campus by restricting entry of anti-social elements into the premises. But the High Court registry must make sure that in no way should the protection affect free access to the court. Welcoming the court’s move seeking CISF protection to the high court campus, D. Selvam, Chairman, Bar Council of Tamil Nadu and Puducherry said, “The High Court, particularly the First Bench headed by the Chief Justice, is the temple of justice, and disrespecting such a dignified institution is not right. The people who are involved in the incident are advocates; they should have gone through the available legal avenues to press their demands. We go through CISF security checks in many public places, including airports. I don’t see any problem in it. Definitely, it would not affect free access to courts for advocates.”
Stating that the State Bar Council would initiate action against the erring advocates, if any complaint is received, Mr. Selvam said, “We welcome the court’s move seeking CISF protection.” Rejecting the view that CISF protection would affect free access to courts for advocates, he added, “We come across CISF security check in many public places like airports, I don’t think it affects free access to those places. If needed, the buildings accommodating court halls can be earmarked from other places and security could be beefed up for those buildings, allowing free access to other areas.”