HC comes down heavily on caste-based celebrations in TN

Coming down heavily on caste-based celebrations in Tamil Nadu, Madras High Court on Thursday framed guidelines for the conduct of `guru poojas`.

Chennai: Coming down heavily on caste-based celebrations in Tamil Nadu, Madras High Court on Thursday framed guidelines for the conduct of `guru poojas` and noted that the government needed to seriously mull banning these events while preventing political leaders from participating in them.

Dismissing a clutch of petitions seeking permission to participate in anniversaries of caste-based leaders in their memorials, Justice N Kirubakaran said he expected political leaders to not visit these memorials, considering the public interest and the prevailing sensitive mood over such poojas.

If the politicians stay away, that itself would be a great service to society, he said and also observed that the court was constrained to give some directions to authorities.

Observing that such celebrations were usually held as a show of strength, the court said politicians would naturally queue up before memorials for political gains.

He said authorities should seriously consider banning such celebrations or at least reduce them to low-key affairs. Visits of political and communal leaders have to be banned during these guru poojas, he said

He directed that hate speeches, objectionable slogans and provocative speeches be strictly prohibited at such events. He also framed guidelines on banning of publicity materials, processions and hiring of vehicles.

If at all politicians wanted to honour yesteryear leaders, they could feed the poor, help orphanages and old age homes or give scholarships to poor students irrespective of their community.

The court upheld imposition of prohibitory orders by the Tirunelveli district administration, which had done so going by past experience when property worth several crores of rupees were damaged in violence.

By no stretch of imagination could the restrictions be said to be violating fundamental rights of the petitioners, the judge said and dismissed the petitions.

Sivakumar of `Tamil Puligal` had sought a direction to police against preventing his supporters from hiring vehicles to go to `Ondi Veeran` memorial near Sankarankovil in Tirunelveli district.
Likewise, one Vijaya of Cuddalore had sought a direction to allow them to pay homage to community leader Immanual Sekaran at Paramakudi.

Mammannar Poolithevan Memorial Trust had moved court seeking permission and adequate protection for celebration of the 298th birth anniversary of Poolithevan at Sivagiri in Tirunelveli district.