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Stop protests, apex court tells police

By Our Legal Correspondent

NEW DELHI, AUG. 20. Expressing concern over the volatile atmosphere on the Madras High Court campus, the Supreme Court today directed the Chennai Police Commissioner to take all steps to facilitate the smooth functioning of courts.

A three-judge Bench comprising Justice N. Santosh N. Hegde, Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice G.P. Mathur, in its interim orders on a public interest petition filed by `Traffic' K.R. Ramaswamy, said "issue notice. In the meantime we direct the Commissioner of Police to take adequate steps to prevent any demonstration on the premises of the High Court and to take all steps as are necessary to facilitate the smooth functioning of the courts especially to prevent obstruction of lawyers who want to appear in cases and to see that no harm or inconvenience is caused to them''.

The Bench issued notice to the Tamil Nadu Home Secretary; the Chennai Police Commissioner; the Registrar-General of the High Court; the presidents of the Madras High Court Advocates Association and the Madras Bar Association and the chairman of the Bar Council of Tamil Nadu returnable in one week.

Following the framing of a code of conduct by the Madras High Court, lawyers in Chennai have been on a warpath. Counsel for the petitioner, P. V. Yogeswaran and G. Rajendran `mentioned' that the situation on the campus was becoming worse day by day.

`Serious matter'

The judges expressed concern at the incidents which occurred in the last few days and said "it is a serious matter". They wondered how the agitating lawyers who were arrested were released on a habeas corpus petition.

Counsel Muthraj Jayant told the court that neither the Madras High Court Advocates Association nor its president, S. Prabakaran, was responsible for the violent incidents. He said a section of lawyers drove out the president and other office-bearers when they wanted to pass a resolution for resuming work.

The Bench asked counsel to file an affidavit, setting out all details.

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