Monday, February 23, 2009

Supreme Court responds

What follows is a representation made to the Chief Justice of India. It is likely that the representation may be placed before Court on Wednesday, the 25th of February 2009.

R.VAIGAI & other advocates

22nd February, 2009


The Chief Justice of India,
Supreme Court of India,
New Delhi.


There is a total breakdown of the Constitutional machinery in the State of Tamilnadu and the administration of justice has come to a grinding halt.

We submit this memorandum to you with deep anguish, pain and shock at the brutal attack by the State Police on judges, advocates, staff, litigants and the general public within the precincts of the High Court, Madras and the neighbourhood, on 19.02.09. We seek your urgent intervention to restore the majesty and the rule of law and the public confidence in the administration of justice in the State of Tamil Nadu.

The police violence on the afternoon of the 19.02.09 within the precincts of the Chartered High Court of Madras have left the judiciary in Tamilnadu in shambles. The State Government has not come forward to hold itself accountable.

The following sequence of events clearly show that the violence had nothing to do with the lawyer’s boycott, who resumed work on 19.02.09 and that the police carried out a premeditated and well planned attack on the judiciary which lasted unabated for nearly 4 hours from 3.30. p.m.

• 9.30 a.m.- Nearly 200 regular policemen, Swift Action Group, Riot Control Police had been gathered around the High Court premises in Madras.

• Similar deployment was at the Madurai Bench. (The police are on record saying that they were prepared – See the Times of India, Chennai Edition, 21-Feb-09, page 2).

• 2.30 pm – 16 advocates went to the B4 High Court Police Station to surrender in connection with the incident that took place in the High Court when Mr. Subramaniam Swamy’s case was heard. They also wanted a complaint registered against Mr. Swamy for having abused a lawyer by his caste name.

• It appears that though the police were persuaded to register the complaint, they made the surrender of advocates accused by Mr. Swamy of assault a precondition.

• 3.00 pm – About 200 Armed Police suddenly arrived near the Police station in vans.

• 3.15 pm – Though the advocates surrendered voluntarily, the police manhandled them and pushed them into the van.

• Advocates objected to the manhandling.. There were less than a 100 advocates, litigants and others present there.

• 3.30 pm – The police offensive increased . Most of the gates of the High Court were closed by the police, thus trapping the judges, advocates and litigants inside the campus.

• Stones were pelted from all directions. Reports say that the police started to throw first.

• Lathicharge of advocates by the armed riot police started.
• Fresh reinforcements of the Special Action Group (riot police) arrived (nearly 200) and the lathi charge continued with greater instensity and the police chased advocates into court halls and chamber blocks.

• The Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice with some judges like Justice A.C.Arumuga Perumal Adityan, Justice R.Sudhakar, Justice Mohan Ram, Justice Sashidaran, Justice Satyanarayana, and Justice Jyothimani came out of their chambers/court halls hearing the commotion. The police did not spare the judges and the advocates who shielded them suffered grievous injuries and are hospitalized.
• Justice Arumugha Perumal Adityan sustained injuries
• The Acting Chief Justice ran towards the registry office in the high court annexe building. However the offices were bolted from inside by the staff fearing the police. Only when the accompanying advocates and staff banged the door announcing the presence of the Acting Chief Justice were the doors opened. Other Judges ran in different directions.

• 4.00 pm - The judges took refuge in the chambers of the
Acting Chief Justice, who tried in vain to contact the Chennai City Police Commissioner, the DGP and the Chief Secretary telephonically.

• 4.00 to 6.00 pm- The Police entered court halls, advocates chambers, administrative offices and lathi-charged both advocates and others present. The police dragged advocates and any other person found even on floors above the ground level and beat them. Women advocates were also not spared. In addition to the physical assault, they were also subjected to sexist offensive language.
• The policemen barged into the court buildings and with brute force broke window panes, caused extensive damage to furniture and records of courts including electronic equipment, LCD television sets and computers, the registry, the offices of the personal assistants of the Judges, the Associations inside the campus like the Madras High Court Advocates Association and the Law Association, the libraries and even the offices of the Government Pleaders and Prosecutors, Advocates chambers and vehicles parked in the campus. Close to 200 cars and two wheelers were damaged.

• Advocates, litigants, court staff, judges, children in the day care centre near the Family courts and general public were trapped in various court buildings.

• 5.30 pm – The B4 police out post located at the southern end of the campus after the Family Court building caught fire. At that point of time, the entire campus was under a siege by the police. Judges , advocates, staff and litigants including those injured were trapped inside the court halls and chambers. Many had fled the campus . The police station had already been cordoned off by the armed police. The claim of the police that the advocates set fire is false.
• The riot police reached the door step of the chambers of the Hon’ble Acting Chief Justice, where the full court had taken refuge. The registrar General and other senior court staff and some advocates were present inside the chambers. The riot police lathi charged the advocates who were assembled outside the chamber waiting anxiously for judicial response and protection.
• Justice Sudanthiram rushed out of the chamber of the Acting Chief Justice on hearing the commotion but had to beat a hasty retreat as he too was attacked.
• The riot police started banging the doors of the chambers of the Acting Chief Justice.
• 6.00 pm - Some of the injured persons managed to leave the court premises escorted by advocates through the northern gate facing Thambu Chetty street on NSC Bose Road as it was the only gate open.

• 6.30 pm – The Police chased the advocates leaving the campus into the adjoining streets including Esplanade Road, NSC Bose Road, Armenian Street, Thambu Chetty Street, Linghi Chetty Street, Sunkurama Chetty Street. The Police indiscriminately beat people found on these streets. They also entered shops and law offices and continued the rampage. Many people took refuge in shops and shutters were drawn. They specially targeted the offices of advocates in the said streets.

• 7.30 pm-the DGP ,the Chief Secretary and the Home Secretary finally came to the Hon’ble Chief Justice’s chambers.

• 6.30 – 8.00 pm – Police violence continued. Vehicles parked inside the court campus were randomly damaged and any person found was chased and beaten.

• The entire High Court campus was under siege between 3.30 p.m. and 8.00 pm.

• At the end of the day, nearly 150 advocates, staff and litigants were admitted to hospital with serious injuries and significantly the majority had sustained head injuries.

• At about 8 p.m. on the basis of a written complaint given by a lawyer, the High court treating it as a PIL passed an order recording the incidents and directed that the investigation be handed over to the CBI. It also constituted three committees to assess the damage to the high court and other courts.
• 20.02.09- The High Court could not function thereafter as court property was extensively damaged. Furniture, electronic equipment and glass pieces were found strewn everywhere. Advocates who had assembled in the premises for a peaceful demonstration were threatened by the police. Late in the evening, shoot at sight orders for damage to public property was ordered and a handful of protesters were trapped inside the campus.

• At about 11.40 pm, a few advocates had to enter the court with the permission of the Acting Chief Justice to escort these protesters out of the campus.

• 21.02.2009 – The High Court wore a deserted look and all the entrances have been locked. At every entrance, 40 to 50 policemen have been posted. Many shops on the adjoining streets were closed. The same situation continues even today.
• The High Court issued an official statement that it did not authorize police entry on 19.02.09.
• The High Court passed judicial orders calling for a report from the police commissioner to take a decision on initiating criminal contempt proceedings against the state officials. It also held the state accountable for the damage caused.

While this is the state of affairs attempts are being made to project the violence of the police as a clash between them and the advocates. There is extensive video footage of the assault, despite which the state government has not even suspended the police commissioner and the joint commissioner who was in charge of the operation.

We bring to your notice that 35 senior advocates of the Madras High Court have passed a resolution condemning the atrocities committed by the police and the brutal and indiscriminate assault on judges, advocates, staff, general public and the damage caused to property.

Unfortunately the police is generating false rumours by the day as if the advocates pose a threat to the safety of the courts, based on which shoot at sight orders have been issued to be enforced in and around the courts in the state.

Representations by advocates to restore normalcy have gone in vain. It is ironical that while the judiciary was outrageously attacked by the police , it has reposed faith in the same force to guard its property in preference to the advocates who protected the judges and suffered grievous injuries in the process.

The prominence given to the “shoot at sight” orders, simultaneous with the closure of courts with the physical presence of large contingents of armed police around courts all over the state gives the most disturbing appearance as if the state judiciary is under siege by the police and the judges have no control over the administration of justice. This sends a dangerous message to the

general public completely shaking their faith in the rule of law and the independence of the judiciary.

Today members of the judiciary, court staff , advocates and litigants feel unsafe to enter courts with police present in such large numbers. It is imperative
to completely remove the police from the courts in Tamil Nadu for the judicial system to start functioning freely without any fear.

The legal community including the judiciary in Tamil Nadu look up to you in this hour of crisis. The Hon’ble Supreme court should suo motu order judicial enquiry by a panel of sitting high court judges since it is the judiciary that has been attacked and made dysfunctional Courts in the high court premises cannot function unless extensive repairs are effected.

We urge you to visit the High Court and make effective interventions to restore people’s faith in the majesty of justice including that of subordinate judicial officers, ministerial staff and that of the legal community.

Yours sincerely,


  1. I hope the person who posted his first comment for "court under lock out" got his proof from Ms. Vaigai's petition and the photos. It is outrageous that the police after going on a rampage files FIRs against 150 or so lawyers for property destruction but have not taken action against a single policeman for the same or for targetting the lawyers' and the public's heads.

    Let this incident be means to end police atrocities once forever.

  2. Dear Sir,

    Thank you for the valuable piece of information regarding the chronology of the events. We have made reference to this information in our website

    Thank You
    Editorial Team.

  3. Hi friends
    On 19.2.2009 there was a brutal attack by the police on the Judiciary and the Institution as a whole. The police have not spared the judges, staff, litigant public and advocates and the buildings, vehicles and the passerby in the adjoining streets and roads. So it is not a clash between police and advocates as described by the police authorities. What is the reason for such attack. Because the advocates were boycotting the courts in the State for stopping the genocide on the Tamil people in Srilanka. Some of the parties who wanted to divert the issue in the ensuing parliament election wanted to take away the issue of srilankan tamils from the mind of the people of tamilnadu and the operation was successfully preplanned and the work was handed over to the police to carry out the operation. On 19.2.2009 morning itself nearly 200 Action Rapid force was deployed in the High court campus as per the plan and the judiciary was attacked. So it is not a clash between the police and advocates.
    It is very unfortunate that the Judges who were also attacked have not taken any step to inform the people of tamilnadu about their observation. Fortunately the media had captured the attack on the Hon'ble Mr.Justice Arumugha Perumal Aditan. Otherwise the Judges would have simply brushed aside the attack by saying that it was a clash between the advocates and police concurring the version of police. Life is one. By losing self respect the post is not going to do anything. Life is one. History will not forgive them if they keep quiet. Power alone is attached with the Judge post. Salary is immaterial as they could earn more money as advocate. That power has been taken away by the police to show the world that it is executive is more effective than judiciary. No body was spared. No building in the campus and vehicles were spared. The subordinate judges were attacked and their vehicles have been damaged. So it is high time for the judges to pass a resolution condemning the attack on the judiciary and the Institution as a whole. What are they going to do with the post by losing the self respect. They have power to pass a resolution which may even have a say on the continuation of the government. They need not even follow the saying of Justice Krishna Iyer. We hope the best.
    Thank you

  4. The unparalleled police excess on the Madras High Court campus on 19-02-2009 raises several serious issues. Firstly, it should be remembered that Advocates had in fact resumed work on 19-02-2009 and the Courts were functioning normally in the forenoon session on that date. Despite that, there was a huge contingent of Police personnel of different wings who were present in the campus and outside it since morning on that date. Were they aware of the incidents that were going to happen late evening on that date? What prompted the Police to invoke the Swift Action Group which is known to be normally deployed only in extreme situations? Is lathi-charge meant to disperse any crowd or is it meant to cause grave bleeding injuries to everyone in the vicinity? Aren’t the Police personnel accountable for destruction of public property under the law if they indulge in deliberate destruction of property, that too, from within the High Court campus as the video clippings of various news channels would clearly show? Will mere payment of compensation suffice? Do heated verbal exchanges or event stone throwing warrant such brutal retaliation by Armed Police Personnel? Would the Police be justified even if they went on rampage attacking even those Advocates who were not involved in any manner in the heated exchanges with the Police and further baton-charging the Court Staff, Judges and Litigants? When Police had charged into the Court Halls of the City Civil Courts and Small Causes Courts and even the High Court Halls when the Courts were functioning and lathi-charged all those present there, will it not amount to a very serious interference with the administration of justice and contempt? And so on and so forth. These are questions that the general Public should ponder over before drawing conclusions based on media reports, many of which may not really reflect the true picture.
    One should remember that such executive action would have serious far reaching consequences. While everybody would be naturally interested in restoring normalcy and prevent any recurrence, yet one should also not lose sight of the fact that if such police excess is not made accountable for, then it would have serious repercussions in future as well. Such excessive Police action is not just an attack on the Advocates as it is perceived to be especially by certain sections of the media, but it is an attack on the Judiciary and the Society at large and consequently an affront to Democracy which would be put in peril. It is therefore in public interest that saner ideas prevail and people unite to condemn such brutalities and seek stringent action against such personnel involved, rather than look at it from a narrow perspective!

  5. I present below an extract from one expert's column.
    "On the expression ``law taking its course'' which has gained considerable currency these days, Justice Reddy says, ``with due respect, it is not true at least in part.'' For this to be true, says the judge, ``the prosecuting agency should present the case honestly, the witnesses depose truly, the provisions of the law are clear, and the adjudicator is efficient and honest.''"
    Now, How many of us would give due privelege for the opponents to present their views and have impartial verdict on this?

  6. The entire police action was co ordinated by the commissioner, with specific instructions from the government. without the express consent of the law minister this could not have been possible. it is also confirmed by the stand of the TN government in the Supreme Court, wherein they have till now saved the city police commissioner. The DMK want the policemen to capture booths and help them in the current general elections and the police also wanted to start their own union. The police therefore had to choose a powerful enemy, and that only the High Court lawyers would be their equal. now they will use this opportunity to form an Union. The DMK government would use this as a quid pro quo with the police. If we ask who is the worst enemy, more than the police, it is the State Government that is the worst enemy for the Advocates.

  7. I am not able to control my laughter ever since i heard that the family of the police want to go on strike to protect their menfolk from us, Advocates. During our childhood whenever we commmit some mischief or do something wrong, we will go and hide behind our mother and she would defend us against our complainants. Similarly if you see some drunkard or a debtor, they too will hide behind their wife or mother in case they have severe problems, and allow them to face the complainant. Similarly our great tamil nadu police personnel have also taken shelter behind their womenfolk to defend their undefendable action. this shows their chivalry !! I am not able to control my laughter. Laughing out loud.

  8. In one of the blog I found that if the Commissioner of police is not suspended he may try to tamper the evidence. He had already done that. All the staff of Family court, City Civil Court, Small Causes court and High Court who were also attacked by the police on 19.2.2009 and who took treatment in hospitals have been threatened by the police that they should not give any statement or affidavit before the Hon'ble Mr.Justice Srikrishna. I enquired an O.A in Family court who was attacked took treatment for bleeding injury in hospital informed me that he was threatened not to give any statement. So it is very clear that the police authorities and the Government have already done maximum damage in this case.

  9. Justcr krishana report is totally biased and liable to refected on face of it for the following reasons
    1. the order passed by the Acting Chief Justice at 6.30 pm on 19th cleraly indicated that the police has entered the court premises with out permission and Govt conceded before the supreme court that there is police excess.
    2. Inspite of the order passed by the supreme court the govt was not able tell the court at whose instance the atrocity was taken place. Hence the supreme court ordered for interim report only on police excess and clearly said the High Court will give reference to commission in consultation with advaocate genral and office bearers of the association. hence, when the reference is not given till now by the high court... why Krishna commission went beyond the scope of the commsion on interim report.