On Friday, the Madras High Court directed the Tamil Nadu police to grant permission to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for a state-wide route march on November 6. The court also warned that if state government continues to block the proposed march, the court will initiate contempt of court proceedings as the High Court had already directed the state government to approve the march.

“If the state police fail to grant such permission, the court would be complied to initiate contempt of court proceedings,” said Justice GK Illanthiraiyan. However, the court said that RSS can hold its ‘Route March’ on November 6, not on the originally planned October 2.

The ruling was issued by the court in response to a batch of 30 contempt of court petitions filed by RSS members against the TN police for refusing to grant the organization permission to hold a state-wide route march on October 2 despite a High Court order directing them to do so.

The petitioners’ senior lawyer, S Prabakaran, contended that on September 22,  Justice Ilanthiraiyan had ordered the police to grant the RSS permission for the march with reasonable restrictions. The organization had requested this permission, but the police had rejected their application.

Prabakaran also claimed that it should not be allowed for the TN police to ignore court orders and make up new justifications for refusing permission in spite of a specific judicial order. “The judicial system is impartial. The judiciary cannot be restrained by any entity, not even a government authority. It is a mockery of the court order that the police is sitting over it,” he said.

Police counsel NR Elango briefed the court that the state has received input from central intelligence services anticipating potential law and order disturbances as a result of the PFI ban. He said that the state could not ignore this warning.

Elango continued by citing a Supreme Court ruling that says courts should not interfere in matters of law and order. He refuted claims that the police were interfering with the RSS’s plans to commemorate Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. He claimed that only on October 2 had the police opposed to the march and that they would be open to considering granting permission any other day.

Hasan Mohammed Jinnah, the state public prosecutor, said 52,000 police personnel are on the roads after September 22 to ensure the safety and liberty of the citizens due to issues such as NIA raids and the petrol bomb attacks.

However, S Prabakaran refuted the police argument and said that just because PFI is banned, police can’t deny permission for a march by RSS. “Just because some other organisation is banned, I needn’t suffer. The RSS is not a banned organisation”, he said. He added that police are bound to follow court orders and willful disobedience would lead to punishment.

Senior Counsel G Rajagopal, also appearing for the RSS, said that permission for route march was granted in Puducherry and even in Kerala, where PFI had indulged in violence. He argued that the state could not deny permission merely by citing law and order as a reason.

The state government also said that their main objection was to hold the march on October 2, as Gandhi Jayanti is already an important day, and RSS should reschedule it for some other day. “They are trying to celebrate Pongal during Diwali. October 2nd had its own sanctity,” Senior Counsel NR Elango said appearing for Tamil Nadu police.

After hearing both sides, the court said that as the state’s objection was to hold the march on October 2, RSS can be granted permission for some other date. After getting alternate dates proposed by RSS, the court said that the route march can be held on November 6. The case will be heard next on October 31, and the state government has been directed to issue necessary approvals for the march before that. If the Tamil Nadu government and the state police still do not grant the approval, the court will initiate contempt proceedings against them.

Earlier the Stalin government defied court orders citing threat to law and order

The Madras High Court had earlier on September 22 ordered the Tamil Nadu government to authorize the planned RSS march on October 2 at 50 places across the state. According to a ruling by Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan’s bench, the state government must issue the authorization by September 28 at the latest. However, the Tamil Nadu Police on Wednesday denied permission for the RSS march despite the High Court’s judgment, claiming that the state’s law and order situation in the wake of the PFI ban did not permit the march. The state government declared that it will not authorize any organization to hold marches or rallies.

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