Chennai: The Madras High Court on Tuesday set aside an order of the city Police Commissioner denying permission to a pro-Tamil outfit for holding an indefinite fast here to press for the expulsion of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth of Nations and shifting a meeting of the international body from Colombo.
Allowing the petition by K Thiagarajan of Thamizgh Thesiya Vidhuthalai Iyakkam, Justice KK Sasidharan said the authorities should consider the request in light of the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution.
Thiagarajan had sought permission from the police for holding the indefinite fast from today to press for the expulsion of Sri Lanka from the Commonwealth of Nations, besides shifting the Commonwealth Head of Government Meeting (CHOGM) from Colombo slated in November. He also wanted to urge Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to boycott the meeting if held in Sri Lanka.
Observing that though reasonable restrictions could be imposed on the exercise of such rights, the Judge said it was impermissible to prohibit (protest) without any rhyme or reason. He held that the Commissioner was not correct in denying permission to the fast and quashed his September 19 order.
However, the judge, accepting the contention of the police that the Marina Beach venue proposed by the petitioner would cause traffic problems, suggested selecting an alternative location opposite the Government Guesthouse at Chepauk or Valluvar Kottam.
The court put a series of conditions for the petitioner, including that he should give an undertaking that he would not induce violence during the protest and should cooperate with the police to ensure law and order.
If any leaders supporting the cause wants to speak near the venue of the fast, a prior intimation should be given to the local police and permission should be taken by the petitioner, the judge said.
It directed the Police Commissioner to grant permission by imposing necessary conditions.