The Madras High Court has taken note of the security concerns expressed by the police on the basis of a procession held in court premises on Thursday.
On Friday, a bench headed by the Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi called for a review of the security measures and directed the high ranking officials of Tamil Nadu police and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) "for evolving concrete suggestions in order to crystallise the security arrangements preferably on a permanent basis".
This was after the Deputy Commissioner of Police sent a letter to the Registrar General of the HC about "unauthorized assembly and procession inside HC premises by retired High Court judges and Advocates".
The letter stated that Senior Advocates such as Vaigai, Sudha, Subha, Girirajan, Milton, Bharathi, Parivendhar, Patharsaith, etc., and three former Judges of the Madras High Court— Hariparanthaman, Kannan and Akbar— had walked in procession to North Gate, entered through Esplanade Gate and finished at the statue of Dr. Ambedkar statue in its premises.
"They were stopped and advised for their unauthorized activities. But they refused to hear the Police Officers who were on duty", the letter said.
Taking serious note of the letter, the bench, also comprising Justice Subramanioum Prasad, said :
"Having noticed the said incident reported, what is of more concern is that the incident involves and names three former High Court Judges of having entered the premises and joined the protest that was going on".
"The gravity of the said incident, therefore, puts on guard the entire judicial system, as this may have a large impact on the future security measures that may be required to be undertaken by the High Court", the bench continued
Stating that the incident requires "an immediate concern to be taken up", the Court directed the Security Committee of the Court to take up the matter urgently along with its suggestions and report the matter back for taking appropriate action on the judicial side or otherwise by the next date fixed.
The Advocate General stressed about the need to make adjustments to facilitate the entry of clients to meet about 500 advocates who have chambers in court premises.
The Additional Solicitor General of India submitted that CISF security measures have not been standardised on 'account of two zones of operation within the premises'.
It may be noted that the CISF had taken over the security cover of the Court in 2015 as per Court's orders in view of violent demonstrations by advocates.
"The coordination, therefore, being lacking and the same standard not being deployed may be a cause of concern in future. He, therefore, submits that the operational systems to be followed have to be synchronized in a manner that the security of the entire premises, keeping in view the threat perceptions that keep on arising and taking into concern such other incidents, have to be standardized." the ASG said.
On this basis, the bench said :
"Keeping in view the aforesaid concerns that have been expressed and also the incident reported and extracted hereinabove, we also request the Security Committee to deliberate upon these issues and also coordinate with the Director General of Police, State of Tamil Nadu as well as the high-ranking officials of the Central Industrial Security Force, including local Commandant, for evolving concrete suggestions in order to crystallise the security arrangements preferably on a permanent basis. The exercise may, therefore, be undertaken at the earliest."
Notably, the court "instructed" reporting agencies in its orders on Friday "not to report anything beyond what is recorded in the order, so as to create any misconception or confusion".
The group of advocates who led the procession claimed that it was a peaceful "padayathra" held to commemorate Mahathma Gandhi on the occasion of Martyrs Day.
"It is a sad reflection of the State of our democracy that a peaceful "Padayatra" to commemorate the Father of Our Nation on the Martyr's Day has been portrayed by the police as an "unauthorized activity" by lawyers and retired judges inside the Court", said a press release issued by the group which included Senior Advocates Bader Sayeed, N R Elango. Nalini Chidambaram, R Shanmughasundaram etc.
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