Twelve advocates on an indefinite fast in the Madras High Court in Chennai and in its Madurai Bench demanding that Tamil be made the official language of court have been arrested after the court declared the protest illegal.
The lawyers - seven in Chennai and five in Madurai - were arrested late Friday night on a complaint from the high court Registrar, police said.
The police action came after the agitation was declared "illegal" by the court and a meeting of the full court directed the Registry to take appropriate steps to have the fasting lawyers removed from the court premises.
A release by Registrar-Administration here said the group of lawyers in Madurai had gone ahead with the fast since June 9 despite senior Judges urging them not to do so. A few lawyers in Chennai also started a fast on June 17 for the same cause.
A meeting of the Administrative Committee held on June 17 unanimously resolved the stir was illegal and the striking lawyers should vacate the court campus. This view was endorsed by the full court on Friday, it said.
While the seven lawyers arrested in Chennai were produced before a Magistrate and remanded to judicial custody till July 2, the five fasting advocates in Madurai have been admitted to the Government Rajaji Hospital there.
A report from Madurai quoting Superintendent of Police (Rural) Manohar said police entered the court premises and evacuated the agitating lawyers following a complaint from the Registrar.
Another fasting advocate E Elilarasu could not be traced. He was seen in the court portico shortly before the police entered, advocates said.
"We got specific information that some extremists elements could create problem within the court premises that is why action has been taken," a senior court official said.
The advocates raised slogans against the police when they entered the court.
The Madurai bench bar association in a resolution "expressed anguish and requested to avoid all kinds of activities by various supporting groups and associations within high court premises which are against the sanctity of the high court and dignity of the advocate's profession."
The association would meet again on Monday.