Faults them for indulging in “irregular and illegal” activities

The Madras High Court Bench here on Friday criticised anti-nuclear agitators at Idinthakarai and Kudankulam in Tirunelveli district for continuing their protests, which turned violent on September 10, regardless of the fact that the Supreme Court was seized of the matter following a judgement passed by the Principal Seat of the High Court on August 31 in favour of the nuclear power plant.

A Division Bench comprising Justice K. Suguna and Justice R. Mala expressed its displeasure over continuing protests while dismissing a couple of public interest litigation petitions filed by A. Marx, State convenor, People’s Union for Human Rights, and Human Rights Protection Centre, represented by its deputy secretary S. Vanchinathan, seeking a judicial enquiry into the September 10 violence.

Disagreeing with the submission made by counsel for one of the petitioners that only the people and not the courts could decide the merits and demerits of an issue such as establishment of a nuclear power plant, the judges said they were unable to accept such an argument that sought to justify “mob activities”, as it will lead to “disastrous results.”

Writing the judgement, Ms. Justice Suguna said: “We are in total disagreement with the answer given by the learned counsel for the petitioner. If such a stand is to be accepted, we are unable to understand why Courts are; and what is the purpose of courts passing orders. This stand of the learned counsel for the petitioner reveals whatever be the orders of the court, people can take the law in their own hands and achieve their goal by following any method.”

Further, pointing out that the agitators had ignored prohibitory orders under Section 144 (1) of the Code of Criminal Procedure and marched towards the nuclear power plant on September 10 when it faced the threat of being damaged, the judges wondered: “If this is not said to be a criminal act, we are unable to understand what other act can be termed as criminal act.”

“The democratic form of government itself demands its citizens (have) an active and intelligent participation in the affairs of the State. The public discussion with people's participation is a basic feature and a rational process of democracy which distinguishes it from all other forms of government. However that does not mean, as done in the case in hand, people can take the issue in their own hands and they can deal (with) it as they feel like.”

“That would be destruction of the rule of law, which forms one of the essential elements of public interest in any democratic form of government.” They also said that the petitioners had not come out with details of the agitators who were injured during the violence. No reason was given for not lodging a complaint with any of the authorities in connection with the incident, though a majority of the population in the two villages was educated. On the other hand, the police had alleged that it was they who were attacked by the agitators on the day of violence.