A petition moved by the BJP seeking the court’s direction to the police about not interfering with their Vel Yatra and a stay against the government order of prohibiting large gatherings with more than 100 people from 16 November was taken up for hearing on Tuesday by the Madras High Court.
As sought by the court, TN DGP submitted his report on the BJP Vel Yatra that was taken out in the state. Through the submission, the DGP informed the court that, so far, the BJP has taken out three rallies without obtaining permission from the police and a fourth rally has been organised for Wednesday, despite the police denying permission. He also added that in the last three rallies organised by the BJP, no Covid guidelines and regulations were followed by the cadres who assembled in large numbers, including BJP leaders like State President L. Murugan, who failed to wear a mask in public. The report also said that the BJP rallies caused serious inconvenience to the public as the vehicles in the rally moved at less than 10 kmph during peak hours.
Appearing before the bench, Tamil Nadu AG Vijay Narayanan informed that the rallies organised by the BJP had nothing to do with temple worship and were nothing more than political rallies, and that the party which is in power at the Centre is acting without following the rules and regulations laid down by their own government.
Advocate Rangavachari, who appeared for the BJP, contested that there were similar rallies taken out by the Opposition in the state and the government did not object to those, and pleaded that all political parties be treated equally by the government. He also informed the court that they are ready to follow any conditions laid down by the police.
Coming heavily on the BJP counsel for citing other gatherings as example, the court questioned why the rallies were taken out by the BJP when permission had been denied by the police department and why the leaders did not wait until they obtained the requisite permission.
The Tamil Nadu AG also sought more time to reply on the stand taken by the government to prohibit any rallies in the state and clarified that there is no stay on any individual going to temples and that only permission for rallies organised by political parties are being refused by the government.
The bench, which convened after the lunch, adjourned the petition for December 2 and refused to pass any orders on the prayers made in the petition but allowed the petitioner to challenge any decisions taken by the police department on their second representation seeking permission for the rally. The main petition against the refusal of permission by the government for the Vel Yatra is still pending.