Tamil Nadu

Case against holding govt. events with over 20 people closed

The Madras High Court on Wednesday closed a public interest litigation petition filed by activist ‘Traffic’ K.R. Ramaswamy to restrain the State government from conducting functions with the participation of more than 20 people until the threat of COVID-19 subsides.

Justices M.M. Sundresh and R. Hemalatha closed the case at the admission stage itself after Advocate-General Vijay Narayan objected to the litigant’s plea and said that he could not complain about the Chief Minister, who was leading the fight against the pandemic.

The judges, however, observed that all norms aimed at preventing COVID-19 should be followed when public functionaries attend private events. The A-G told the court that of late, Mr. Ramaswamy was filing cases loaded with political overtones than with public interest. He said the petitioner appeared to have objections to the Chief Minister travelling about freely when restrictions imposed under Section 144 of the CrPC were in place.

‘At the forefront’

“The honourable Chief Minister is working for almost 16 hours a day. He is at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19. How can Mr. Ramaswamy say that the Chief Minister should not travel? It is very unfortunate,” Mr. Narayan said and urged the court to dismiss the case.

He also pointed out that the High Court had imposed costs on the activist in at least three cases in 2011, 2014 and 2018, but he had not discharged those obligations. As per rules, such people should not be allowed to file PIL petitions in the future, he added.

On his part, arguing the PIL through videoconferencing, Mr. Ramaswamy said that a law should be equal to all, including the Chief Minister, and hence he could not be seen travelling across the State and attending public functions with large gatherings.

When the judges sought to know how else the Chief Minister could function, he said official work could be performed online.

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Printable version | Sep 29, 2020 4:32:37 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/case-against-holding-govt-events-with-over-20-people-closed/article32280842.ece

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