Tamil Nadu

HC grants permission for anti-CAA meet after threat of COVID-19 subsides

Justice G.R. Swaminathan of the Madras High Court on Wednesday quashed an order passed by Tiruchi district police on March 4 denying permission for an anti-CAA public meet. However, the judge refrained from permitting the meet on Friday due to a government imposed ban on congregations till March 31 to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“The jurisdictional Deputy Superintendent of Police shall issue proceedings permitting holding of the event at Kadaiveethi in Enamkulathur of Tiruchi district immediately after the ban issued by the government in the wake of Novel Coronavirus outbreak pandemic is lifted,” the judge ordered while allowing a petition filed by Sunnathaval Jamath Jumma Periya Pallivasal.

Disagreeing with the rejection of permission for the public meet on grounds of possible disturbance to law and order, the judge said, since the police invariably deny permission for such anti-CAA meets across the State, their attention must be drawn to the Justice P.D. Desai Memorial Lecture delivered by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud of the Supreme Court last month.

In that lecture, the apex court judge had said: “A state committed to the rule of law ensures that the State apparatus is not employed to curb legitimate and peaceful protest but to create spaces conducive for deliberation… The blanket labelling of such dissent as ‘anti-national’ or ‘anti-democratic’ strikes at the heart of our commitment to the protection of constitutional values.

“Protecting dissent is but a reminder that while democratically elected governments offer us a legitimate tool for development and social co-ordination, they can never claim a monopoly over the values and identities that define our plural society.” Stating that there was a reason for him quoting the lecture, Justice Swaminathan said, it was not as if officials alone discourage dissent.

He went on to state: “Recently, in the 43rd book fair organized by The Book Sellers’ and Publishers’ Association of South India (BAPASI) in Chennai early this year, a publisher was evicted from his rental stall. The eviction notice read that the action was on account of the allottee selling a book against the government. (The Hindu dated 13.01.2020).

“I can understand prohibition of sales of banned and pirated books and CDs. But to say that books that are critical of the government cannot be sold or displayed in a book fair is absurd. BAPASI is not before me and I do not know if really there is such an allotment condition. I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that even if such a condition has been incorporated in the allotment order, the same is unconstitutional.”

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Printable version | Feb 25, 2021 11:26:08 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/hc-grants-permission-for-anti-caa-meet-after-threat-of-covid-19-subsides/article31103222.ece

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