Supreme Court reserves verdict in TN Govt's plea challenging High Court's nod to RSS Workers' Route March on rescheduled dates

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In the impugned order, while allowing RSS to take out its march on rescheduled dates, HIgh Court had observed that protests were essential for a healthy democracy.

The Supreme Court today reserved it verdict in the plea moved by the Tamil Nadu Government challenging the Madras High Court order allowing the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to take out its route march in the state on rescheduled dates.

A bench of Justices V Ramasubramanian and Pankaj Mithal, after hearing the parties said that it would consider the case and pass an order.

Senior advocate Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for RSS, argued before Court that the right to assemble peacefully without arms under Article 19(1)(b) must not be curtailed in the absence of a very strong reason.

Jethmalani further assailed the condition imposed by the state that the procession be conducted indoors and stated that RSS was aiming to make a public statement and the march was not just for the organization.

In response, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing the TN government submitted that while there was no absolute right with the RSS, government had allowed RSS to take out route marches in some places while directing them to make suitable alternative arrangements indoors or altogether declined their request in other places in order to safeguard public order and tranquillity.

In its plea, the state has said that the route march would pose a law and order problem.

The Madras High Court recently on February 10 had permitted the RSS to take out its route march in Tamil Nadu on rescheduled dates and observed that protests are essential for a healthy democracy.

Setting aside the order passed by a single judge that had imposed conditions on the proposed statewide route march asking the RSS to hold the march indoors or in enclosed space, the court restored the order dated September 22, 2022, which directed the Tamil Nadu police to consider the RSS' representation seeking permission to conduct the march and a public meeting, as well, and to grant permission for the same.

Last year, in September the Madras High Court had allowed the pleas moved by RSS office-bearers and had directed the state authorities to grant permission for the route march as proposed by RSS on October 2, 2022.

While asking the State Public Prosecutor (SPP) to make sure that the conditional permission for the march is granted on or before September 28, Justice GK Ilanthiraiyan said that he would pass a detailed order later.

In a batch of petitions, RSS members had sought permission for taking out a route march in their uniform led by a musical band throughout Tamil Nadu and thereafter conducting public meetings at 50 places on October 2. 

Case Title: Phanindra Reddy, IAS & Ors. vs. G. Subramanian