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Madras HC reserves verdict on appeals seeking permission for RSS route marches on public roads

Justices R Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq defer the verdict after hearing elaborate arguments advanced on behalf of the RSS office-bearers as well as the police 

January 25, 2023 12:55 am | Updated January 26, 2023 10:23 am IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai. File

A view of the Madras High Court Building in Chennai. File | Photo Credit: PICHUMANI K

The Madras High Court on Tuesday reserved its judgment on a batch of appeals preferred by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) office-bearers against an order passed by a single judge permitting them to take out route marches at 41 places across Tamil Nadu only on premises with compound walls.

Justices R. Mahadevan and Mohammed Shaffiq deferred their verdict after hearing senior counsel representing the appellants as well as the police. The appellants insisted that they be allowed to take out the route marches on public roads at all 41 places without being confined to four walls.

Opposing the plea, senior counsel N.R. Elango contended that the leaders of RSS and its allied organisations were facing threats till date owing to the recent ban on the Popular Front of India (PFI), a Muslim organisation. Hence, it was assessed by the police that it would not be safe for them to take out route marches on public roads.

Filing a common counter-affidavit to all the appeals, D. Magesh Kumar, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, listed a number of untoward incidents, such as hurling of petrol bombs and arson, reported across the State ever since the PFI was banned by the Centre for five years.

Mr. Elango said the single judge had permitted the appellants to conduct the route marches on premises with compound walls on November 6, but it was the latter who chose not to take out the marches on that day and instead chose to file the appeals. He contended that the appeals were not maintainable at all.

On the other hand, senior counsel G. Rajagopalan, N.L. Rajah, G. Karthikeyan and S. Ravi, representing the appellants, contended that the police could not deny permission for the route marches on public roads for the RSS alone when several other organisations had been granted permission for similar events.

They argued that the police could not blow hot and cold by proudly claiming that the State was a peaceful haven on the one hand and citing a law and order problem on the other just to deny permission for the RSS event.

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