Madras HC for CISF cover for its 'inner circle'

Madras HC for CISF cover for its 'inner circle'

Chennai: In the backdrop of recent unruly incidents involving sections of lawyers, the Madras High Court on Wednesday ordered that the "inner circle" of its campuses here and Madurai should be brought under Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) protection as a temporary measure.

First bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice T S Sivagnanam directed the state and central governments to jointly formulate a security protocol by October 30.

"It may be appropriate to have an inner circle of security manned by the independent force for checking the ingress and egress, and inner security, at least for a period of six months," the bench said.

It passed the order on suo motu PIL proceedings initiated after the court witnessed unruly scenes and obstruction caused by lawyers agitating for declaration of Tamil as official language of the court and over contempt of court proceedings against two Madurai-based Bar leaders last month.

Bifurcation of security duty by handing over "inner circle" security and access control to the CISF or a similar agency, while retaining peripheral security duty with state police, seems to be the higher judiciary's answer to insulate itself from internal and external disturbances.

The state government had objected to handing over security to CISF or any agency other than state police. "We are of the unequivocal view that a role has to be performed by an independent security force, while not removing the state police altogether from the picture," the judges said.

"The working of courts is not akin to maintaining law and order in a city at large, as the temple of justice requires the right environment where people work in tandem," they said.

A string of unruly incidents by lawyers and an evident lack of faith on the state police by lawyers, resulting in security breaches and slow action since 2009 weighed heavily on the judges, who said bringing the high court campuses under security cover of CISF was an "immediate necessity".

The bench commended Madras High Court Advocates Association (MHAA) President R C Paul Kanagaraj and Tamil Nadu Advocate General A L Somayaji for their assurances to the court that every endeavor would be made to improve mutual faith between police and lawyers.

"What we face today is consequences of the lack of faith between police and lawyers, and it is not reflection on the general ability of the police to manage the situation," it said. The use of a separate security force was really a temporary arrangement to establish a working relationship which is of utmost necessity, the judges said.

As for resistance from the legal fraternity for access control measures such as verification of identity cards at gates, the bench said, "We are conscious of the fact that lawyers spend large part of their time in the court and treat their work place as their second home. That may possibly be the reason that any endeavor to check their entry is sometimes perceived as obstructive."