Chennai: The act of police in arresting RSS cadres during processions over their attire seemed at the most "an act of bad taste and bad faith on the part of authorities" and cannot be taken as contempt of Court, the Madras High Court said on Saturday.
Dismissing a contempt petition filed by RSS, Justice V Ramasubramanian also said since his order permitting the outfit to take out processions, subject to certain conditions, had been challenged before division bench he cannot take up the contempt petition.
RSS submitted that police had raised objection to their uniform even at the time earlier petitions were heard and these were overruled by the court. Authorities in various districts, acting on the court order, had permitted them to take out processions, subject to certain conditions, one of which was they should not wear uniform resembling that of the Armed Forces or police.
"At the most what has been made out is an act of bad taste and bad faith on the part of the authorities. Something more is required to attract an action for contempt of Court. Hence the contempt petition is dismissed," Justice V Ramasubramanian said.
The petitioners said they had assembled in various places in the uniform they had always worn for more than 80 years. 'Taking advantage' of them wearing it, they were arrested, taken to marriage halls and detained till late evening and then let off. This action amounted to gross and willfull disobedience of the court order, they said.
The petitioners contended that once the objection relating to the uniform had been overruled, the authorities could not incorporate a condition directly going against it.
Secondly, the respondents had misconstrued Section 41 A of Chennai City Police Act to be a provision empowering them to issue prohibitory orders, despite the Court specifically stating it was only regulatory and not prohibitory.
Dismissing the contempt petition, the judge said a clear case of willful disobedience of an order can be made out without an iota of doubt only where its operative portion has something which has been violated by the authorities.
Noting that the authorities had permitted RSS to take out processions, the judge said it was true he had brushed aside as bogey, authorities' objection to the uniform worn by RSS.
"But it appears that aggrieved by my order, authorities filed intra court appeals, which are pending before the Division Bench."
"Unfortunately for the petitioners and fortunately for the authorities, the observations made by me in the order relating to the uniform worn by RSS volunteers was not incorporated in the operative portion of the order."
The judge said if authorities had misunderstood the effect of his directions, it could at most be termed as something done in bad taste and ingenious method to overreach the order of the Court.
"But still I would not entertain the contempt petitions for the simple reason that the correctness of the order is in question before a Division Bench,"the judge said.