A public interest litigation (PIL) petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking the shifting of former Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa’s mortal remains from Chennai’s Marina Beach to a non-coastal area. In addition, the advocate has sought a direction from the court restraining the central and state governments from raising a memorial for Jayalalithaa at the present burial site.
Speaking to The Hindu, the petitioner, advocate S. Jayaseelan, said that he filed the case because of Jayalalithaa’s past conviction in a corruption case and burying her remains on the beach went against public morality. “No convict should be given a State honour. Memorials are raised in praise and in memory of the leaders who spent their life for public cause. Jayalalithaa went to jail not for any public cause but for looting Tamil Nadu of Rs. 53 crore,” he said.
Questioning the legality of burying her remains in the first place, he referred to the state government’s failure to obtain a licence, citing Section 319 of the Chennai City Municipal Corporation Act of 1919, which empowers the Commissioner to issue licences to places used for disposing dead bodies.
He also alleged that the memorial of former Chief Minister MG Ramachandran (MGR) at the beach was illegal, as his remains were buried without complying with Section 319 of the Act.
On May 8 this year, the official plan for a grand memorial was unveiled by the chief minister Edappadi K Palaniswami, who laid the foundation the same day along with deputy chief minister O Paneerselvam. The monument is reportedly set to cost the AIADMK government a whopping Rs 50.8 crore, which has the opposition up in arms against the project.
A few days after the unveiling, the BJP Youth Wing in Tamil Nadu submitted a petition to Governor Banwarilal Purohit, stating that the move to construct such a memorial is unnecessary, owing to the state government’s cash crunch of over Rs 31 lakh crores. The DMK too voiced its opposition to the memorial, stating in a press release that the move is “against democratic norms”.
The proposed structure would be the third such memorial at Marina Beach, alongside the Anna Memorial, in memory of former Chief Minister CN Annadurai and the MGR Memorial, in memory of former Chief Minister MGR.
The Tamil Nadu cabinet had approved plans for the Jayalalithaa memorial a few days after her death on December 5, 2016, and it is scheduled for completion by 2019.