8 Sep 2023 4:45 AM GMT
The Madras High Court recently remarked that every person in a democratic person is entitled to his reservations and opinions about a particular ideology and no one can be compelled to follow the same ideology. The court also added that only dialogue could ensure scope for evolution in the Society. “In a democratic set up, it is always possible that their will be divergent...
The Madras High Court recently remarked that every person in a democratic person is entitled to his reservations and opinions about a particular ideology and no one can be compelled to follow the same ideology. The court also added that only dialogue could ensure scope for evolution in the Society.
“In a democratic set up, it is always possible that their will be divergent views regarding a belief or an ideology. It is not possible to compel everybody to follow the same ideology and a person is always entitled to have his reservations and opinions regarding an ideology. Only if there is a dialogue, there is scope for evolution in the society,” the court said.
Justice Anand Venkatesh added that the freedom of expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution also included freedom to hold opinions and it could not be prevented on the mere apprehension that there may be law and order problem.
“It is now too well settled that the freedom of expression that is guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India also includes freedom to hold opinions and it cannot be prevented on a mere apprehension of a law and order problem and the reasonable restriction that has been provided under Article 19(2) of the Constitution of India only talks about likelihood of affecting public order,” the court observed.
The court was hearing a challenge against a rejection letter issued by the Inspector of Police (Law and Order) denying permission to one Senthil Mallar to conduct a meeting to address views about Dravidian ideologies.
Mallar had submitted that his organization wanted to conduct a meeting wherein the organizers wanted to address their views about Dravidian Ideologies. He informed the court that he had made representations on August 8, 2023 to the police seeking permission and while the representation was pending, an objection was given by one Avadi Nagarjan on the ground that Mallar was attempting to address an opinion against Dravidians which would cause a law and order problem. In view of this objection, the police issued the rejection letter refusing to grant permission to conduct the meeting.
The Additional Public Prosecutor on the other hand informed the court that Mallar had made a request for conducting meeting for a particular purpose but was exceeding that brief and was attempting to conduct a meeting which would cause law and order problem. The prosecutor added that Mallar should have come out with a clear agenda which was going to be discussed in the meeting and should not have concealed the same.
The court noted that while it was possible that the opinions expressed in the meeting would go against the majority view held in favour of the Dravidian Ideology, that by itself would not result in preventing Mallar and his organisation from expressing their views.
Thus, the court set aside the rejection letter issued by the police and asked Mallar to make a fresh application seeking permission. The court also directed the police to consider the same and grant necessary permission.
Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr P Vijendran
Counsel for the Respondents: Mr. A Damodaran, Additional Public Prosecutor
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (Mad) 258
Case Title: Senthil Mallar v The Commissioner of Police and another
Case No: WP No. 25907 of 2023