The Madras High Court bench here on Friday ordered an interim stay on a showcause notice issued by the sub-inspector of Abiramam police station in Ramanathapuram district against the founder of Desiya Forward Bloc, B.T. Arasakumar, to initiate action against him under Section 107 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr.Pc) (apprehension of breach of peace and tranquility of an area).

Mr.Arasakumar pleaded with the court to set aside the notice on the grounds that the sub-inspector did not have the authority to issue the notice.

In his petition, Mr.Arasakumar claimed that the district collector had issued an order invoking Section 144 (1) of the Cr.Pc on September 8, 2013 in Ramanathapuram for a period of two months.

The collector, in his order, prohibited the entry of hired and tourist vehicles from other districts ferrying participants to the memorial of freedom fighter Immanuel Sekaran to mark his death anniversary. They were also prohibited from attending the Muthuramalinga Thevar guru pooja.

According to the petitioner, the order of the collector violated the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (d) of the Constitution, which guarantees freedom of movement. Therefore, he had filed a statutory appeal before the collector to revoke his order and permit participants to visit Ramanathapuram for the Thevar guru pooja. The appeal was pending before the collector, he claimed.

Meanwhile, the sub-inspector issued the showcause notice on October 10, 2013 seeking an explanation from the petitioner why proceedings should not be initiated against him for attempting to breach public peace and tranquillity. In his petition, Mr. Arasukumar contended that as per Section 20 of the Cr.Pc, only the Revenue Divisional Officer (also the executive magistrate) had the authority to issue the showcause notice. The sub-inspector had issued the notice without any jurisdiction, he alleged.

Therefore, he pleaded with the court to set aside the notice issued by the sub-inspector. After hearing the preliminary arguments of the counsel, who appeared on behalf of the petitioner, Justice T. Raja ordered an interim stay on the notice and ordered notice to the sub-inspector.