The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered a judicial probe into the alleged police excesses against striking Tamil Nadu lawyers by a panel headed by Justice BN Srikrishna, a former apex court judge.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan also ordered transfer of five senior police officers of Chennai, purportedly for allowing police to enter into the Madras High Court premises and beating up of the striking lawyers on February 19. The Court, however, made it clear that the police officers were being transferred to facilitate a free and fair probe and there should not be any presumption of guilt against them.
The state government informed the court that Joint Commissioner of Police Ramasubramanian had already been transferred and another police officer of his rank Sandeep Rai Rathore and three DCPs — Sarangan, Prem Anand Sinha and Paneer Selvam — would be shifted immediately.
Appearing for the state, Solicitor General G.E. Vahanvati said Tamil Nadu government was ready to offer an amount of Rs 20 lakh to meet the cost of reconstruction of the court premises and compensation to injured lawyers.
Disapproving of the conduct of the striking lawyers for their failure to uphold the “sanctity of the judiciary”, the court asked them to return to work at the earliest in the interest of litigants. “A large number of litigants are the worst sufferers of the strike. This is very sad,” it added.
The bench, which dissolved a panel set up by the Tamil Nadu government to probe the clashes, asked the Srikrishna Committee to “consider immediate actions against the erring police officers and to submit its interim report within two weeks.” The bench ordered the presence of only unarmed policemen inside the court premises for the security purposes.
Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy was beaten up by lawyers inside a courtroom of the high court for appearing in a personal matter last week. He had lodged a criminal case against the lawyers. The clashes broke out when the police tried to arrest some lawyers.