The court was listening to the government’s objection on farmer leader Ayyakannu’s proposed protest at Marina.

Is Marina more important than Cauvery Madras HC asks TN govt
news News Wednesday, April 25, 2018 - 08:30

Rapping the Tamil Nadu government for its crackdown on protests at Marina beach over the past few weeks and months, the Madras High Court on Tuesday asked the state what its priorities were.

Slamming the government for denying permission to prominent farmer leader P Ayyakanu, the court asked "Is the Marina beach more important than Cauvery? On festival days like Vaikunda Ekadasi, Christmas and Ramzan, several lakh people go to worship at temples and churches. Will you say that you cannot control the crowds, so people should not celebrate those festivals?"

The Madras High Court was hearing a petition filed by Ayyakannu who had sought permission to stage a 90-day hunger strike at Marina over the non-formation of the Cauvery Management Board. Over subsequent hearings, Ayyakannu reduced the number of days of the fast from 90 to 30, but said that the government was unrelenting.

When the issue came up before Justice T Raja earlier this month, the Chennai city police submitted that no one had the permission to protest at Marina.

The court had then asked the government for details on the last protest that had taken place at Marina with governmental permission.

Responding on behalf of the government, Additional Advocate General of the state Arvindh Pandian noted that with the exception of the Jallikattu protests, no protests had taken place in Marina since 2003.

Having heard the response from the government, the court also clarified that governments only have the authority to regulate protests and don't have any authority to ban them altogether.

The state also argued that they provided permissions only for rallies, awareness programs that last between one to two hours, that too on service lanes.

However, Ayyakannu countered that the only reason he was being prevented from conducting a protest at Marina was because of the government's fears that it would garner attention like the 2017 pro-Jallikattu protests.

The Jallikattu protests which took place over 15 days in January last year led to the state government passing a legislative ordinance legalising the bull taming sport that was previously banned by the Supreme Court. 

While listening to the matter earlier, Justice T Raja had also called on Ayyakannu to conduct the protest in a 'dignified manner.' The Justice was referring to the farmer protests in Jantar Mantar last year when the farmers attempted to draw the attention of the government by posing semi-nude and wearing skull garlands.


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