The Madras High Court has reserved order on a batch of pleas challenging a single judge order imposing certain conditions on the route march sought to be carried out by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh.
Challenging the order before a bench of Justice R Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq, the RSS submitted that the single judge could not have modified its earlier order allowing procession, in a contempt petition alleging wilful disobedience.
The single judge had modified its order to the extent of directing the organization to conduct the procession in compounded premises such as Ground or Stadium. The court had also directed the participants not to bring any stick, lathi or weapon that may cause injury to any one.
"The court passed orders and the party (RSS) acted upon the order. Now the Police cannot come back to the court and say that they cannot follow the order. And the court cannot take note of that submission and modify it's own order. It's not a case of an ex parte order. They were served notice and were given ample opportunities," Senior counsel NL Rajah argued before the court.
Adding that public procession was an acceptable manner of exercising one's freedom of speech and expression, he submitted that the State had a duty to permit the same.
"The role of State in a democracy is to permit me to say what I want to say. Not to curb my speech," he added.
Senior Counsel G Rajagopal argued that the State cited law and order problem only when RSS made a request whereas permissions were being granted for various processions carried out by other parties. Thus, he questioned the conduct of the government and submitted that it was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
Senior Counsel G Karthikeyan submitted that the Police could not merely cite law and order problem and deny permissions for the party to carry out its procession; it amounts to Police in fact admitting their inability to maintain law.
Contending that the single judge could not have modified its earlier order, Senior Counsel Ravi Shanmugham submitted that in a contempt petition the court could not have looked into the rightness of an order but merely had to look into whether a contempt was made out. In the present case, 49 officers went against the earlier order of the court and refused to grant permission which was clearly a case of contempt, the counsel said. Thus, he pleaded for restoration of the contempt petition and strict action against the officers.
Senior Counsel NR Elango, appearing for the Police authorities submitted that denial of permission was a policy decision based on the intelligence reports. The same was decided for the safety of the members of the organisation.
Case Title: G Subramanian v. K Phanindra Reddy IAS (batch cases)