CHENNAI: Citing the pandemic protocol, the state government on Thursday told the Madras high court that it will deny permission for the BJP’s proposed month-long ‘Vetrivel Yatra’ set to begin on Friday.
“As per a government order dated October 31, religious, social and political gatherings would be permitted with not more than 100 people only after November 15,” advocate-general Vijay Narayan told the first bench of Chief Justice AP Sahi and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy in response to two public interest writ petitions that sought to restrain the saffron party from organising the rally.
The state unit of the BJP had proposed to take out the ‘yatra’ from Tiruthani to Tiruchendur, covering six abodes of Lord Murugan, from November 6 to December 6.
Opposing the stand of the state government, BJP’s counsel V Ragavachari argued that the state was not above the law and that it had to follow the guidelines issued by the Centre, which permitted such religious gatherings.
To this, the first bench said the party could not take such a stand without challenging the GO dated October 31 which prohibited such gatherings till November 15.
‘Rally, if permitted, would aid spread of coronavirus’
Ragavachari answered, “We would have challenged the GO if the state had rejected our representation seeking permission for the rally citing the GO. But the authorities concerned are yet to pass any orders on the same.”
He added that the vehicle (yatra) was going to be on the move and there would not be any gathering. However, refusing to accept the same, the bench said it could not rely on such oral submissions. Noting that they were going into the merits of the case, the bench said, “It is open for the state government to pass appropriate order on the representation seeking permission for the rally. If any of the parties to the petitions are aggrieved by such order, they are free to approach the court challenging the same.”
Representing the petitioners, advocates Stalin Abhimanyu, T R Udaya Kumar and Puneeth submitted that the rally, if permitted, would aid the spread of Covid-19 besides creating law and order problems in the state.