While agreeing that VVIPs and VIPs required protection, the Madras High Court said on Tuesday that the city police should also take necessary steps to enable the public to pay their respects to Mahatma Gandhi at his statue near the Marina here, with minimum inconvenience, on certain dates.

The court was disposing of a public interest litigation petition by R. Gandhi, a senior advocate, who sought a direction to the Tamil Nadu government not to restrict the public from paying their respects to Gandhiji on January 30 (Martyrs’ Day) and October 2 (Gandhi Jayanti), except for 10 to 15 minutes, during the visit of the Governor and the Chief Minister.

The petitioner submitted that police cordoned off the statue from 8 a.m. to 10.30 a.m. on Martyrs Day and Gandhi Jayanti until the Governor and the Chief Minister had paid their homage. On January 30 this year, police prevented people from coming anywhere near the statue till the VVIPs left the place.

In the order, the First Bench consisting of the Acting Chief Justice R.K.Agrawal and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan, said the Governor and the Chief Minister were under special security cover and the police were duty bound to provide adequate security and regulate traffic for the purpose of their garlanding the statue. The petitioner had submitted that on January 30 this year several children were made to wait in the hot sun and Kalyanam, a former secretary to Mahatma Gandhi, fainted while waiting.

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