Over 250 advocates from the Madras High Court and law students formed a human chain in front of the court's premises on Friday in protest against the Citizenship Amendment Act. The demonstration, a first by lawyers in the city, extended from the Bar Council to the high court premises and lasted for just over an hour. The protest saw advocates holding posters against the Act, reading out the Preamble of the Constitution and then dispersing.
Advocates from opposition parties as well as those not linked to any political party were also present for the human chain to extend their support for the cause. The demonstration began around 10.30 am and the Preamble was read by 11.20 am. The lawyers then dispersed from the venue at 11.45 am. No slogans were raised in the premises of the Madras High Court.
Speaking to TNM, senior advocate Elizabeth Seshadri, who was part of the demonstration, says, "The need to come out and express our dissent has been building up amongst lawyers for a while now. The CAA made us particularly aware of the ruling government's effort to modify the constitution through a backdoor method. As lawyers, we fight every day in court on the basis of the constitution. And when this Constitution, the very fundamentals of our society, is threatened, we can no longer stay quiet."
The advocate further pointed out no permission from the Chennai police was acquired to carry out the demonstration.
"This is not an unlawful cause or protest. In a democracy, the state should facilitate the expression of dissent. How can my right to speech, expression, dissent and participation in protests be put into practice if the state doesn't create a conducive atmosphere?" she asks. "Democracy is not merely about voting every 5 years. It is about citizens actively participating in decision-making processes," she adds.
Also present at the protests were senior advocates, including Nalini Chidambaram, Vaigai, Kannadasan and Sudha Ramalingam. The demonstration also marked the advocates' protest against the manner in which the legal representatives of the â€˜Kolamâ€™ protesters in Chennai were treated by the police.
"Our protests were against all forms of harassment and unconstitutional behaviour of the ruling BJP government. We need to come out and protest now because we are being pushed into a chaotic situation," says advocate Kannandasan. "If we don't protest now, the nation will be ruined."