Wednesday, April 24, 2024

RSS route march: Supreme Court to hear Tamil Nadu plea against Madras High Court lifting restrictions on March 3

The Supreme Court has decided to take up on March 3, a petition filed by the Tamil Nadu government against the order passed by the Division Bench of the Madras High Court, regarding the conditions imposed on the route march of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in the state.

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi mentioned the matter on Wednesday before a Bench led by Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, contending that the march proposed by RSS was scheduled for March 6 (Monday).

Rohatgi said the state had taken a call that in six districts, which were ‘affected’ by PFI and bomb blasts, the march could be allowed only with conditions such as it has to be done in compounds and stadiums. 

The Single-Judge Bench of the HIgh Court had accepted the conditions, however, the Division Bench lifted the restrictions and directed the Tamil Nadu police to allow the RSS to conduct the route march, he added.

The CJI then agreed to hear the matter on Friday.

On February 10 this year, the High Court of Madras had 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 had set aside the November 4 order of the Single-Judge, which had asked the right-wing outfit 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, as well as 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 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.

RSS had challenged the November 4 order, which among other things, had directed the right-wing outfit 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 RSS.

During the previous hearing, Senior Counsel N.L. Rajah, who appeared for 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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