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Madras High Court directs Tamil Nadu police to permit march, public meeting by RSS

The High Court of Madras on Friday directed the Tamil Nadu police to grant permission to the proposed statewide march and public meeting by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) in the state.

The Division Bench of Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq set aside the November 4 order of the Single-Judge, which had asked the RSS to hold the march indoors or in an enclosed space. 

The High Court consequently restored an order of September 29 last year, which had directed the Tamil Nadu police to consider representation made by RSS and grant them permission to conduct the march and the public meeting.

Noting that a democratic State must uphold the citizens’ right to freedom of speech and expression, the Bench observed that it was essential for the citizens to hold protests and route marches, in order to maintain a healthy democracy.

The High Court said that the State authorities must uphold the citizens’ freedom of speech and expression, which was a fundamental right guaranteed by the Constitution. 

The approach of a State to a citizen’s rights can never be adversarial in a welfare state, it added.

The RSS had challenged the November 4 order which among other things, directed the RSS to conduct its route march in an enclosed space or indoors.

The Division Bench had reserved its verdict on January 24 this year, on the batch of appeals filed by the RSS against that order.

During the previous hearing, Senior Counsel N.L. Rajah, who appeared for the RSS, had argued that Tamil Nadu was the only State in the country where the RSS route march and public meeting had not taken place on October 2, due to the opposition by the state government.

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