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Monday, May 29, 2023

‘RSS members victims, not perpetrators’: SC junks TN’s plea against RSS march across state

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the RSS to conduct a route march across Tamil Nadu, as it dismissed a plea by Tamil Nadu government challenging the Madras High Court orders in this regard.

A bench of Justices V. Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal noted that the law and order cases cited by the Tamil Nadu government showed that in many instances, RSS members were the victims, instead of perpetrators.

“The chart provided by the state government shows that the members of the respondent organisation (RSS) were the victims in many of those cases and that they were not the perpetrators. Therefore, it is not possible for us to find fault with the order passed by the learned judge either in the main writ petitions or in the review applications. Hence all the special leave petitions are liable to be dismissed,” said the bench.

The top court noted that the objection raised by the state government before the high court was that after the imposition of a ban order on another organisation (PFI), law and order problems cropped up in certain places, including cylinder blast, and those led to registration of several cases. “The details of those cases are actually furnished. We do not wish to extract in this order, on account of its sensitivities,” noted the bench.

During the hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the Tamil Nadu government, had submitted before the court that “We are not totally opposed to having route marches and public meetings across the state, but it cannot be in every street, every mohallaa”.

Rohatgi argued that RSS cannot seek a carte blanche in conducting the marches and added that the high court had agreed that the situation of security in the state offered a mixed bag. He stressed that the state government cannot shut its eyes to law and order concerns.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, representing the RSS, submitted that the state government cannot stop an organisation from holding peaceful marches by citing apprehensions in connection with a banned outfit.

He added that they (the state) are unable to control a terrorist organization there and that is why they want to ban the march, and after the PFI ban there have been no incidents. He had submitted, “If I am being attacked by a terrorist organisation then the state has to protect me…”, and insisted that the government cannot ban the march.

He said the RSS cannot be singled out against the backdrop that marches have been held by Dalit Panthers and the ruling DMK, and pressed that the state cannot abdicate its responsibilities.

The state government had contended that it was not pressing for an absolute ban on the marches, rather only highlighting the issue of security to participants in certain sensitive areas, which has a presence of the banned Popular Front of India (PFI), and have witnessed bomb blasts in the past.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline.)

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