The Chennai police had submitted that because of the statue, motorists did not get a clear vision of vehicles at the junction, causing accidents.
The Madras High Court on Thursday directed the Tamil Nadu government to take a decision on removal of the statue of actor Sivaji Ganesan from the Kamarajar Salai here, observing that the structure in the middle of the road would affect traffic flow and view of vehicles passing through Radhakrishnan Salai. This should be done as expeditiously as possible, it said.
Pointing out that public roads were not meant for erection of statues, a Division Bench comprising Justices Satish K. Agnihotri and K.K. Sasidharan observed, “By erecting statues in the middle of public road, by giving difficulties to motorists and the general public, actually we are showing disrespect to such distinguishing personalities.”
Going a step further, it said the “names of celebrated artists like Thiru Sivaji Ganesan should not be dragged into the midst of litigation by the State by erecting his statue in the middle of the road, to the dislike of motorists and pedestrians.”
The Bench passed the order on a public interest litigation petition filed by P.N. Srinivasan, a Gandhian, in 2006 originally to restrain the Tamil Nadu government from installing the statue at the junction of Kamarajar Salai and Radhakrishnan Salai.
During the currency of the petition, the petitioner died. His son, P. Nagarajan was substituted as the petitioner.
The statue was installed on July 12, 2006. Later, the prayer was amended to direct the authorities to remove the structure.
The petitioner opposed the erection of the statue on grounds that it would violate a State government undertaking before the Supreme Court that no statue or structure would be erected on public roads. The police submitted that because of the statue, motorists’ visibility, was affected.
The Bench said the Tamil Nadu government’s undertaking before the Supreme Court would apply to all local bodies in the State.
The undertaking would equally be binding on successive governments. It should be respected by one and all.
Nobody had a right to claim erection of permanent structures like statues on roads. The State was not an exception. The government’s policy should reflect the people’s social aspirations. The decision to honour public personalities and artists of repute should not be at the cost of convenience of the public.
Roads were not meant for installing statues. There was no dispute that leaders and stalwarts should be respected in an appropriate manner. The traffic police had given a report. It was now for the State to take a decision on the matter, the Bench said.