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Madras High Court drew up a security plan in 2008 itself
September, 13th 2011

The Madras High Court had drawn up a comprehensive security plan in 2008 itself for safeguarding its premises in Chennai from terror threats and now it is up to the State government to implement the plan estimated to cost around Rs.4.66 crore per annum, according to the court's Registrar General.

The submission was made in a counter affidavit filed before the Madras High Court Bench here in reply to a public interest litigation petition filed by a lawyer, G. Thiagarajan of Mannadimangalam near here, in December 2008 seeking adequate security for the Madurai Bench campus in the wake of the Mumbai terror attacks that year.

Within two months after its filing, an unprecedented clash took place between the police and the lawyers on the High Court campus in Chennai on February 19, 2009.

After a wait of over 34 months, the PIL was listed for hearing before a Division Bench of Justices P. Jyothimani and M.M. Sundresh on Monday when the counter affidavit was served on the petitioner.

The counter prepared way back in February 2009 was filed in the name of former Registrar General R. Mala, who is now serving as a judge of the High Court after her elevation on March 31, 2009.

It stated that the High Court constituted in 1996 a committee of judges to suggest security measures for all courts, judges, staff, litigants and others. As per its recommendations, the government took steps to provide security for High Court Judges and District Judges presiding over Special Courts.

Deadly assault

In June 1998, an advocate was fatally assaulted inside a court hall at Gingee in Villupuram district due to personal enmity. After this, the High Court requested the government to install metal detectors at the main gates of all 473 criminal courts in the State. Though quotations were invited for the purchases of metal detectors, the same have not been installed yet, the counter read.

On July 13, 2007, the then Chief Justice constituted a new security committee to upgrade the security of the High Court on par with the Supreme Court complex. Subsequently, the High Court judges held a meeting with the Home Secretary and top police officers on January 28, 2008. It was agreed to bring in tighter security measures. On December 5, 2008, the Special Secretary (Home) and the Police Commissioner of Chennai promised to implement all security measures by January 15, 2009. A similar arrangement was planned to be made in the Madurai Bench too. But after that the officials began re-examining the proposal on the ground that it would lead to a huge expenditure of Rs.4.66 crore per annum.

The security committee of the High Court has almost completed the arduous task of finalising a scheme and has propelled the Bar Associations as well as the government to take necessary action. It is now for the government to implement the scheme and provide necessary security, the RG said, seeking the dismissal of the PIL petition.

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