Madras High Court initiates action against ‘unruly’ lawyers

CHENNAI - After discussions with all sitting judges of the Madras High Court, acting Chief Justice S. Mukhopadhyay has ordered contempt proceedings against ‘unruly’ lawyers for assaulting their peers during proceedings, sources said Thursday.

This was a follow-up to a division bench comprising Mukhopadhyay and V. Dhanapalan hearing representations from office bearers of the Congress party’s state legal wing’s A.P. Suryaprakasam and Syed Haroun earlier in the day apprehending danger from advocates sympathetic to the banned Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

‘The judges took a dim view of a continuing court boycott by unruly lawyers during a long meeting with city police commissioner K. Radhakrishnan,’ a high court source said.

‘The registrar has been ordered to start contempt proceedings against advocates who assaulted senior counsel A.A. Chelliah and his wife Vasanti on Jan 30 and others who set upon some policemen in the premises of the court. Further the judges decided to dispose of cases ex parte if the boycott by lawyers continued,’ the source added.

A sizeable section of lawyers are continuing to boycott courts all over Tamil Nadu to protest against the state and central governments’ alleged failure in pressurising the Sri Lankan government to prevent the killing of Tamils in the country.

There was no official word on the number of people against whom proceedings would be initiated and whether it would include VCK leader Thol Thirumavalavan whose name had been referred by the Congress lawyers.

Police officials were tight-lipped over the matter as the Madras High Court Advocates Association resolved to boycott courts indefinitely to protest ‘police highhandedness against jurists’.

Policemen had cane-charged agitating lawyers who damaged a police vehicle within the precincts of a local court earlier in the day.

A disappointed Magistrate N. Ravi chastised police officials and 23 advocates who were brought to his presence, and went home during the small hours after a six hour drama in his court, police officials said.

The lawyers ‘arrested’ for defying police orders to protest against killings of Tamils in Sri Lanka and assaulting policemen, refused to divulge their names and all of them asked the court clerk to enter ‘Prabhakaran’ in the column for the identity of those to be remanded since Wednesday evening.

A group of over 150 lawyers who had gathered in support of the ‘arrested’ advocates smashed the windscreens of a police vehicle and allegedly abused policemen and the magistrate before dispersing. Eventually, the magistrate left without remanding the lawyers, the police officials said.

According to the Congress lawyers, judges Mukhopadhyay and Dhanapalan had assured them of ‘proper action’ to curb unruly behaviour in court.

‘The court seems to have kept its promise to curb the growing alleged lawlessness inside court precincts,’ Suryaprakasam told IANS.

Senior counsel A.A. Chelliah had lodged a complaint in a police station inside the high court campus giving details of the attack on him and his Vasanti in the presence of judges Mukhopadhyay and Dhanapalan by certain members of the Madras High Court Advocates’ Association, a police official said.


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