Sri Rama is very close to the heart of Hindus, observed the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court recently while quashing the high-handed decision of the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) to decline permission for the conduct of an awareness campaign on the construction of the Ayodhya temple (N Selvakumar v. The Commissioner of Police).
The permission sought by the District Convenor of the Sri Rama Jenma Boomi Theertha Kshethra Trust to conduct an awareness campaign about the Ram temple, through his van in Madurai was denied citing COVID-19.
Justice R Hemalatha, however, pointed out that permission could have been given to conduct the awareness programme, with certain COVID-19 safety restrictions. She observed,
“It is pertinent to point out that “Sri 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“, the Court said.
The Court added,
“… concerned authorities should not have restrained the movement of the petitioner’s vehicle and action appears to be high handed. On the other hand, they should have allowed the procession after imposing certain restrictions.”
The Trust had been formed for creating awareness among the public and for the construction of Sri Rama Temple in Ayodhya in line with Supreme Court orders, the Trust’s convenor submitted.
While the government had granted permission to conduct various social and political events, the petitioner’s February 13 representation was rejected by the ACP, citing the present COVID-19 situation and a law-and-order problem. The petitioner’s vehicle (van) was also restrained by the Police.
The Additional Public Prosecutor defended the ACP’s decision by submitting before Court that he does not have jurisdiction over all wards of Madurai and that he is not empowered to grant permission in the matter. However, the Court responded, that nowhere it is stated that the second respondent does not have powers to pass orders.
Justice Hemalatha added that if the ACP thought he did not have the power; he should have forwarded the petitioner’s representation to the Commissioner of police instead of rejecting the permission.
The Court further took note that the authority had not explained how there would be a law-and-order problem if the petitioner took his van for the awareness campaign in and around Madurai.
Therefore, the Court quashed the order declining permission. Justice Hemalatha further directed the Commissioner of Police (Madurai City) to pass appropriate orders on the representation submitted by the petitioner.