The High Court by initiating a suo motu writ proceedings, seeking adequate security either by CISF or any other agency is examining a solution to a problem, which in my perception does not exist.
The cause projected is that the Hon’ble Judges feel threatened in discharging their duties. Mentally yes, which we have witnessed in many incidents that happened in the past few years; but I couldn’t recollect any incident, when a physical threat was posed to any Judge of the High Court or even apprehended. My gut feeling says that any advocate, even a kind of virulent critic of the judges will by instinct throw himself in to protect a judge against a physical assault. We all have a subliminal reverence to anyone in authority and advocates are no exception.
In any case all Judges have personal security, provided by the State Police and I don’t think any judge has complaints. CISF is trained to protect large establishments and it is no one’s case that they could provide a better personal protection than the State Police.
The last straw which forced the Court into initiating the suo motu writ, is the sit-in protest by few lawyers and students in the First Court. From the information got through newspapers and the Order of the court, it fails to appeal to my intelligence how the state police could be blamed that such protest went on till late evening.
The moment the Judges found persons, assembled inside their court for the purpose other than watching the proceedings, they could have directed the Registry to remove those protesters with the help of personnel provided by the state for the security of the High Court. It was a small group, without any backing from any Association and their intentions were clear; to get arrested so as to invite the attention of the media. No one would question the authority of the court to remove any visitor, litigant or even an advocate whose presence, the court finds as an obstruction in the course of its duty to dispense justice.
The power of the court is not restricted in removing those disturbing its proceedings but may extend in securing their custody by initiating contempt proceedings or prosecuting for criminal offences.
The restriction of entry as in Supreme Court, I don’t think it requires a writ. It lies in the hands of the High Court to devise such security cover in consultation with the state police. The problem is no such problem exists as the Court’s expressed apprehension is not against the outsiders but against advocates, conducting agitations inside court buildings.
In my memory only during the hearing of the writ filed by Perarivalan against his death warrant, outsiders gathered in large number but there was no agitation. Even during Subramanian Swamy incident, it was the advocates who raised slogans and disturbed the court proceedings; the restrictions as in Supreme Court is of no help.
Few years back, a handful of lawyers including Mr.Bhagat Singh started a hunger strike inside Madurai Bench building and it continued for a week and lastly advocates themselves had given themselves to be arrested. The court did not take any decisive step, except pleading with the advocates to discontinue the hunger strike. I was wondering why there was no direction from the Court to the police securing the High Court premises to remove those protesting inside the building, making it as their home for days; I know I was not along wondering such but many advocates wished so.
The other instances, which I think primarily in the minds of the judges when they initiated the proceedings is the advocates gathering in the corridors and raising slogans and at times even entering the courts, to take their colleagues out. In none of those incidents, the High Court so far had directed the state police, providing security either to stop or to remove the advocates; is it not uncharitable to blame the state security, when it is not given the opportunity to act.
No court or judge, will give a carte blanche to CISF or any other agency to act on its own against the advocates gathering in the corridors or raising slogans. They also have to wait for the instruction from the Registry to act. The consequence of such stern action by the uniformed forces to prevent or remove the advocates from the court corridors would be the same, either It be the state police or the CISF. However in my humble opinion, even here the state police is better trained to tackle a mob inside a cloistered and narrow corridors than the agencies like CISF, who are trained to secure large expanse.
I have seen that the state police and its intelligence is maintaining a close contact with bar leaders and picking up information regarding the brewing unrest among advocates. CISF does not have such luxury and the state police shorn of its responsibility may not be enthusiastic to share the intelligence with them.
The court can achieve with the state police, what it intends to achieve. If it could not be done by state police, no other agency can.
On the other hand the constant presence of CISF personnel inside court halls with their camouflaged uniforms and SLRs may instil fear in the minds of not the advocates but sadly of the litigants and common public who come to court bonafide.
We are living at a time, when the Courts are undergoing a democratization process; what was once thought to be the hallowed precincts of maharajas, zamindars and privileged few gradually underwent a change from the seventies and the process is now almost complete, which we see by the presence of ordinary citizens, even from remote villages and marginalized sections in the visitors’ gallery of the court.
High Court today remains the vestige of last hope for the common men, irrespective of its many shortcomings; I have seen in their eyes such common men find much at home when they are in court than before a lowly police officer or a revenue authority. The presence of alien force, not speaking their language unfortunately would reverse the process.
My fervent appeal to the High Court is to have a meaningful security; but in the name of security, do not allow the court to be alienated from the common man.