“Shri Ram Close to the Heart of the Religious Sentiments of Hindus” – Madras High Court

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 - Divyank Jajra

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The Madurai Bench of Madras High Court on Friday, February 19 allowed a petition that sought permission to conduct an awareness campaign under the banner of Shri Ram Janmabhumi Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyaan for the construction of Shri Ram Temple in Ayodhya.
Justice R. Hemalatha in its order directed the Commissioner of Police, Madurai City to consider the representation of the petitioner N. Selvakumar who is district incharge of the Shri Ram Mandir Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyaan and to pass order with reasonable restrictions for the free movement of the vehicle in and around Madurai.
The petitioner sought permission from the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Thilagar Thidal (Law and Order) Range, Madurai City for movement of a vehicle for the purpose of creating awareness in and around the city about collection of donations for Shri Ram Temple. The ACP rejected the representation citing the Covid-19 situation and also law and order problem.
The authority did not give any clarifications as regard to the disturbance of law and order situation and such rejection deem very arbitrary in nature. The petitioner also contented before the Assistant Commissioner of Police that permission for the Nidhi Samarpan Abhiyaan has been already granted by the Government to various political and social organisations to conduct conferences and public meetings. Even then, the authority did not pay any attention to his representation and straight away denied permission.
N. Selvakumar also stated that the vehicle which was to use for campaigning was also restrained and seized by the Police Authority. The ACP also tried to escape liability before the bench by stating that he did not have jurisdiction over all 100 wards where the petitioner sought permission for campaign and movement of vehicle. To which the Court said, “Nowhere it is stated that the second respondent does not have powers to pass orders and in case, he found so, he should have forwarded the same to the Commissioner of Police instead of rejecting the permission.”
Court made a remarkable observation over the Nidhi Samarpan Drive and noted, “It is pertinent to point out that Shri Rama is very close to the heart of the religious sentiments of Hindus and when people are allowed inside the movie halls, malls and other public places stipulating the basic safety measures like wearing masks and using hands sanitizer, I do not find any reason to validate the official stance taken by the second respondent in this matter.”
Court calling the action “high handed” also questioned the order passed by the Assistant Commissioner of Police, Madurai City that how such movement of vehicle in and around the city could lead to law and order problem. Significantly, the Court opined that the authority should have allowed the procession after imposing certain restriction on the movement of vehicle.