Judge says he was bound by Division Bench ruling in a similar case

The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday dismissed a writ petition challenging an order passed by Tirunelveli Collector on August 11, under Section 144 of Code of Criminal Procedure, proclaiming exigency within a range of seven km from the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tirunelveli district.

Justice K. Chandru also dismissed another writ petition filed by the same litigant G. Sivarasa Boopathy of Human Rights Protection Centre, a private organisation, challenging Valliyoor Deputy Superintendent of Police's refusal to grant permission to the outfit for conducting a public meeting against the nuclear power plant at Kudankulam.

Passing common orders in both the writ petitions, the judge said that he was unable to countenance the petitioner's plea as he was bound by a judgment passed by a Division Bench of the High Court in a public interest litigation petition challenging the validity of a similar prohibitory order issued by the Collector on March 19.

Dismissing the PIL petition on March 26, the Division Bench had held that that there was nothing wrong in the prohibitory order issued by the Collector as he had banned only political parties and other organisations that were instigating and helping the anti-nuclear movement from entering Radhapuram Taluk limit between March 19 and April 2.

“The prohibitory order is not against the entire world thereby preventing anybody from entering the boundaries of Radhapuram Taluk. The order is specific and it has categorised the sections of persons who are assisting the organisation, which is protesting against the nuclear power plant,” the Bench had said.

On the present writ petitioner's contention that the Supreme Court had disapproved of such prohibitory orders in the Ramlila Maidan case relating to eviction of Baba Ramdev in a midnight operation on June 4, Mr. Justice Chandru extracted passages from that judgment wherein it was held that scope of judicial review in such matters was very limited.

He also recorded the contention of Additional Advocate General K. Chellapandian that the Collector had been issuing prohibitory orders in the locality from time to time after reviewing the law and order situation by calling for periodic reports from the police officials concerned.

The August 11 order was issued after considering a report submitted by the Superintendent of Police that there was likelihood of anti-nuclear agitators indulging in unlawful activities. The Collector had also taken the safety of the nuclear power plant and its employees into consideration before passing the prohibitory orders.