Thursday, February 26, 2009

When the tide turns and civil society proclaims the truth


We Condemn the Police Brutality on Lawyers and Judiciary

On 19th February 2009 in the Madras High Court.

Suspend Police Officials Responsible for the Barbaric Attack and Initiate Criminal Proceedings.


26th February 2009


All Civil Society Organisations, Human Rights Organisations,

Social Activists, People’s Movements and concerned citizens

Extend Solidarity and Participate in All India Black Flag day by Lawyers called by the Bar Council of India.

With deep anguish and anger, we express our shock with the near total breakdown of the Constitutional machinery in the State of Tamil Nadu and the administration of justice coming to a grinding halt.

The police violence on the afternoon of the 19.02.09 within the precincts of the Madras High Court and the offices of the lawyers for over four hours is unparallel in the history of independent India and has left the judiciary in Tamil Nadu in a quandary. The State Government has not come forward to hold itself accountable for this mass police violence in a democratic institution meant to uphold the ‘Rule of Law’ and the enforcement of the Constitution.

We are shocked that the Honorable Acting Chief Justice Mukhopadhyaya with other judges including Justice Arumugaperumal Adhithan, Justice R. Sudhakar, Justice Mohanram, Justice Sasidharan, Justice Sathyanarayana and Justice Jyothimani who came out of the court halls hearing the commotion were not spared by the police and also the advocates who shielded them suffered grievous injuries and are hospitalized.

The armed police with five feet ‘lathies’ and stones charged the lawyers without any provocation from the lawyers side, beating several of them mercilessly and damaging all automobiles en route entered court halls, Advocates chambers, administrative offices and lathicharged both advocates and others present. The police dragged advocates and also other persons found even on the floors above the ground level and severely 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 brute force broke window panes, caused extensive damage to furniture and records of courts including electronic equipments, LCD television sets, computers and lifts, 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 Associations and the libraries and even the offices of the Government pleaders and prosecutors, advocate chambers and vehicles parked in the campus. Close to 200 cars and two wheelers 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. Even when the judges fled into the chamber of the acting Chief Justice for protection and locked the doors, the riot police started banging the doors of his chamber.

The Prominence given to the ‘shoot at sight’ orders, simultaneous with the closure of court with the physical presence of a large contingent of armed police around courts all over the State given the most disturbing appearance as if the State judiciary’s views need not be considered by the ruling Government when its actions almost appear as a seize of the democratic institution. This sends a dangerous message to the general public completely shaking their faith in the ‘Rule of Law’ and the independence of the judiciary.

If the judiciary of the Madras High Court continues in a position of being unable to issue directions to the State Government with regard to the attack on lawyers and judges, we urge that on moral grounds the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, Justice Mukhopathyaya and all the other judges should hand in their resignation.. The Constitution demands them to sit in their court halls and issue their writ against the violators of law.

We believe that whenever there is an onslaught on the institution of democracy, it is the duty of the civil society organizations to atleast extends their solidarity to the ongoing protest. In the context of the ongoing protest by lawyers, we, the undersigned representatives of the Human Rights organizations and NGOs strongly condemn the brutal and barbaric assault on lawyers, the members of the judiciary, court staff and

On lookers.

We urge the Government of Tamilnadu to immediately suspend the DGP Mr. K.P. Jain, the Commissioner of Police Mr. Radhakrishnan, the JCP Mr. Ramasubramaniam and other police personnel directly involved in the attack and initiate criminal proceedings against each of them.

We urge the Hon’ble High Court of Madras and the Supreme Court to ensure that an enquiry by a panel of sitting judges of the Supreme / High Court ( not Retired judges) is undertaken by an order of the Court to enquire into the incidents of 19th February and not come out with recommendations but on the contrary with orders of the court issued on the basis of the enquiry for criminal prosecution, for compensation and for far reaching recommendations to restore the dignity of the Bar, the Bench and the Institution of Justice in the country. While doing so, we the undersigned are convinced that the attack of 19th February is a result of a ‘conspiracy’ at a very high level of governance in Tamilnadu – which alone resulted in the extent of damage and attack on the Temple of Justice.

We are convinced therefore as civil society organizations that we unequivocally stand with the victims of this police brutality, namely the legal fraternity. Therefore, we urge all civil society organizations and NGOs working in Tamilnadu with women, with children., with Dalit and Adivasis, with organized and unorganized labor, in the field of education, health, social security, protection of land and livelihood resources, women empowerment, consumer protection, environment, HIV AIDS, sexual minorities including transgender and in any other fields which are not mentioned here to mobilize in large numbers, to march in solidarity and express our deepest sense of concern and commitment to the legal community which is observing a BLACK DAY tomorrow the 27th February 2009 called by the Bar Council of India in every small town and cities all over the country where courts are located.

We have deep respect for the media’s independent investigation on numerous occasions where police excesses have occurred. As civil society organizations and NGOs in Tamilnadu we appeal to the entire media to desist ‘from police sponsored version stories’ and on the contrary continue to undertake your own investigations, so that the truth is upheld and false police versions thwarted from public knowledge.

We urge the striking lawyers to consider their struggle today as not only a struggle of lawyers but as an attack on civil liberties and democratic rights. Your struggle today is ours and together in Tamilnadu let us join hands to bring a strong force that will work for the reform of the police, the restoration of the dignity of the Bar and heightened commitment of thousands of men and women lawyers who have resolved to protect this onslaught to the independence of the judiciary. We also urge all lawyers to support the democratic struggles being fought by millions of the poor and oppressed across Tamilnadu for their right to life, dignity and security.

Mr. A. Mahaboob Batcha, Managing Trustee, SOCO Trust
Mr. O. Fernandez, Director, Human Rights Advocacy and Research Foundation
Mr. Henri Tiphagne, Executive Director, People’s Watch
Ms. Sheelu, Convenor, Tamilnadu Womens Collective
Mr. M. Bharathan, Director, Human Rights Council- KALAM
Mr. M. Jeeva, Director, Society for Integrated Rural Development
Mr. Nizamudeen, Executive Secretary, Consumer Confederation of India
Ms. Jesurathinam, Director, Social Need Education and Human Awareness
Mr. A. Antonysamy , CEDA Trust
Mr.Thomas Jayaraj, Director, Centre for Child Rights and Development
Mr. J. Paul Baskar, Managing Trustee, PEACE Trust
Mr. V.A. Ramesh Nathan, Director, Social Awareness Society for Youth

No comments:

Post a Comment