Men In Power Shouldn't Prevent Citizens' Right Of Thought And Expression: Madras High Court Lays Down Guidelines For Future RSS March

Upasana Sajeev

8 Jan 2024 8:43 AM GMT

  • Men In Power Shouldnt Prevent Citizens Right Of Thought And Expression: Madras High Court Lays Down Guidelines For Future RSS March

    While issuing guidelines to the Police and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) for permitting and holding route marches in the future, the Madras High Court commented that men in power should not attempt to prevent an individual's right of thought and expression.Justice G Jayachandran also added that men in power should not be biased while permitting citizens to express their views and...

    While issuing guidelines to the Police and the RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh) for permitting and holding route marches in the future, the Madras High Court commented that men in power should not attempt to prevent an individual's right of thought and expression.

    Justice G Jayachandran also added that men in power should not be biased while permitting citizens to express their views and any restriction must pass the test of reasonable restriction.

    β€œIn a populous and democratic Country like India, through out the year processions, rallies and public meetings are common and held all over India. They are true signs of vibrant democracy and manifestation of freedom of thought and expression. Men in power should not attempt to prevent the Citizens right of thought and expression. Also should not be biased while permitting citizens to express their views,” the court observed.

    In October last year, the RSS had approached the court seeking directions to the State to grant permission for their route marches. During the pendency of the case, however, the State had categorically rejected the request for conducting a rally.

    The High Court, while allowing RSS to conduct route march, observed that the State's decision to deny permission in the first instance was against the secular and constitutional principles in the State. The court had noted that the state had denied permission to RSS by merely stating that there were other structures and places of worship in the intended route which was against the constitutional principle of Secularism.

    Later, when the State again denied permission in spite of the court's directions, RSS moved the present contempt plea. When the plea was previously taken up, the court had opined that the State did not want to follow court orders and called the State "incapable of administration".

    While the contempt plea was pending, the State approached the Supreme Court which in turn directed the State to submit a proposal to the High Court on allowing future RSS route march without court interventions.

    As per the directions of the Apex Court, the police had exchanged draft proposal with the organisers of RSS local unit, to which they gave in writing their re-joinder/objections. To this, the DGP gave the reasonings for the restrictions.

    After going through all the materials, the court accepted the proposal of the DGP barring some conditions which, in the opinion of the court did not clear the test of reasonable restriction. The broad guidelines for future marches are as under:

    1. The office bearers shall seek permission at least 21 days prior to the proposed route march. The authority shall peruse the application and grant permission at least 7 days prior to the event. To avoid inconvenience, the organisers may suggest one or more alternative routes to the authorities.

    2. The authorities shall impose restrictions only when necessary and the restrictions must be fair and reasonable. The restrictions should neither be unfair and flimsy nor the reasons which were already held unreasonable by the courts.

    3. The applicants (organisers) should furnish details of the person in charge of the route march and other details of the meeting.

    4. There will be no restriction on the participants to carry flag and play music. However, they shall not raise provocative slogans or songs.

    5. If the organisers want to put up display boards, flex boards etc, a separate permission has to be sought.

    6. The authorities shall collect a reasonable amount as refundable caution deposit to ensure that no damage is caused to public property.

    The court added that these guidelines are to be scrupulously followed and read in harmony with the rules and regulations already existing to ensure that the public meeting is conducted peacefully without court intervention in the future.

    Counsel for the Petitioner: Mr.K.S.Jeyaganeshan, Mr.B.Rabu Manohar

    Counsel for the Respondent: Mr.N.R.Elango, Senior Counsel Assisted by Mr.R.Muniyapparaj, Addl.Public Prosecutor, Mr.S.Santhosh, Government Advocate

    Citation: 2024 LiveLaw (Mad) 9

    Case Title: G.Shanugam v. Tmt.P.Amudha, I.A.S

    Case No: Cont.P.SR.No.161527 of 2023

    Click here to read/download the judgment

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