A 'state' of Constitutional breakdown and lawlessness
by B R Haran on 07 Mar 2009 8 Comments

'Brahmin Dog! Brahmin Dog! Subramanian Swami Brahmin Dog!
Anti-Tamil Brahmin Dog! Subramanian Swami Brahmin Dog!
Get away, get away! Rajiv killer get away
These were the slogans raised inside court room 3 of Madras High Court by a team of lawyers who threw eggs on Dr. Subramanian Swami, who was seeking to implead himself in support of the Dikshitars in the Chidambaram Temple case, listed for hearing on 17 February 2009.

A group of lawyers belonging to pro-LTTE political parties and outfits has been boycotting the court proceedings thereby preventing other sincere lawyers from doing their duty, since January end. They have been engaged in a daily practice of going around the corridors in procession inside the Madras High Court shouting slogans against the Sri Lankan government and in support of Sri Lankan Tamils (read LTTE).

These same lawyers are also supporting the government's takeover of the Chidambaram Temple. On learning that Dr. Swami was going to implead himself in the Chidambaram case, they utilised the moment with the triple motive of attacking Dr. Swami for his anti-LTTE stand, abusing the Brahmin community, and preventing the Chidambaram Temple case from being taken up for arguments.    

They entered the third court shouting slogans, threw a number of eggs on Dr. Swami's face, and some eggs near the well of the room, spoiling the records and furnitures. A few lawyers pushed him from behind and tried to assault him. When police officers attempted to protect Dr. Swami, unruly lawyers thrashed Assistant Commissioner Kadar Mohideen, pushed him, and prevented other officers from entering the court hall. Some more lawyers who swelled inside the hall attempted to close the other entry to prevent the personal security guards of Dr. Swami, who has 'Z' category security cover, from entering the hall. 

Smt. Radha Rajan, Editor,
www.vigilonline.com,  Smt. Uma Anandan, Sri T R Ramesh and this writer, who were present in the visitors' section, objected to the lawyers' abusing the Brahmin community inside the courtroom. A male lawyer assaulted Smt. Rajan, and when we tried to protect her some blows landed on our hands too. The lawyers threatened and abused us. A female lawyer attempted to pounce on Smt. Rajan and hurled more derogatory remarks. The melee lasted about fifteen to twenty minutes; finally the unruly mob vacated the hall. 

Later, the division bench allowed the personal security guards of Dr. Swami to take positions around him. Dr. Swami complained about the ugly incident and requested the bench to pronounce an order as everything happened in the presence of the honourable judges. He requested adjournment of the case as there was no security for him and other litigants inside the court hall. He told the division bench that he would take up the issue with the Supreme Court. Mr. Justice P K Mishra was very critical and asked the government pleader Raja Kalifullah to explain why police protection was not given.

The government pleader replied that, ‘The police need the permission of the Chief Justice to enter the hall, as there is an earlier order restricting the police from entering the court room and the available police is enough only to give protection outside the hall and for protecting the advocates,’ When Justice Mishra reminded him of the presence of a posse of policemen seeing their own officer getting thrashed by unruly lawyers, the pleader said, ‘It is very unfortunate that a respectable person like Dr. Swami has been attacked.’

For this the bench criticised the government pleader and said, ‘the respectability of a person is immaterial. Even a hardcore criminal who is present in the court attending his case must be given protection.’ It asked, ‘does the government expect this court to remind it of its duties?’ and added, ‘it is a shameful incident. No right thinking citizen would tolerate this type of an incident and it is a national shame.’

Adjourning the Chidambaram case for further hearing on 19 February 2009, the judges said they would also forward their order to the acting Chief Justice to take severe action against lawyers involved in the shameful act. They said the order would be sent to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court as well. 

Coming out of the court hall, Dr. Swami addressed the press and said, ‘The attack is a clear indication of the breakdown of Constitution and prevalence of lawlessness in the state under the DMK government. There is no security for litigants even inside the court hall. If a bunch of unruly elements including lawyers could disrespect the law, dishonour the court and act in defiance of the Constitution, then one can imagine what sort of governance is happening and how the law and order situation has deteriorated in the state. A group of lawyers have been preventing the functioning of the courts for the last two to three weeks and they have been supporting the cause of a terrorist organisation of another country at the cost of the rights and interests of the citizens of this country and this is an act, which has resulted out of anti-national attitude.’

Condemning the incident, he said, ‘The DMK government doesn't have the right to continue in office any more and it deserves to be dismissed.’ He reminded the people that both Chief Minister Karunanidhi and his son M K Stalin have taken central police protection as they do not repose trust and confidence in the state police force, and asked, ‘were these policemen not Tamils?’ 

Dr. Swami, who faced severe attacks and humiliation during Indira Gandhi's emergency and Jayalalithaa’s first tenure (in the same High Court premises), was undaunted by the attack by “Dravidian” lawyers who tried to take the law in to their own hands. He said he would lodge a complaint with the Bar Council and demanded the impugned lawyers be debarred for life. 

In this context, it may be noted that a few months ago a magistrate of the district sessions court in Chennai was assaulted by an advocate; the judiciary, instead of bringing the concerned lawyer to book, preferred a ‘dialogue’ with the lawyers for an amicable solution! Such a compromising attitude only emboldens advocates and the assault upon police inside the court premises is only further evidence of the deterioration of ethical standards among the legal fraternity. 

The recent incident in Law College, involving law students, is a grim indicator of what lies ahead. Even as Dr. Swami was addressing the media, many lawyers could be seen abusing him, hurling invectives at him and the Brahmin community, and blaming the media for giving him more space. At the same time, a section of law-abiding advocates were visibly upset at the happenings and aired their anger privately over the conduct of the unruly section of their fraternity. 

Meanwhile, acting on the complaint of Assistant Commissioner Kadar Mohideen, the city police has arrested a lawyer named Kiniliyo Immanuel for alleged involvement in the incident; he is among the twenty lawyers against whom the police have registered cases. 

The BJP was the only political party which condemned the attack on Dr. Swami; even the main opposition AIADMK refrained. The state BJP blamed the government for not providing security and alleged that the government itself might have been behind this incident. Certainly the state government fears Dr. Swami might win the case in favour of the Dikshitars and thus save the Chidambaram Temple from hostile takeover, much in the manner in which he triumphed over the UPA government in the Setu Samundram case and helped protect the sacred Rama Setu. 

The author is a senior journalist; he lives in Chennai 

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