A Division Bench of the Madras High Court has set aside the order of the Single Judge of the Court permitting the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to conduct route marches across Tamil Nadu only inside compounded premises, with certain additional restrictions.

The Bench of Justice R. Mahadevan and Justice Mohammed Shaffiq has directed the Police to grant permission for route marches. The Bench has asked the RSS to give three dates and has asked the Police to choose one date from the three.

The High Court has also refused leave sought by the State to appeal to the Supreme Court against the Judgment. The appeals were listed today for orders.

Senior Advocate NL Rajah, Senior Advocate G Rajagopal, Senior Advocate S. Ravi, Advocate M. Ramamoorthi and others appeared for the appellants in a batch of 49 appeals.

The Single Judge had granted permission to the RSS to conduct route marches in 44 places in Tamil Nadu on November 6, 2022 with certain conditions. The RSS had announced that it will not conduct route marches on November 6 and would instead appeal against the Judgment.

Thereafter, the RSS issued a press release stating that "...the ruling given by high court yesterday restricted to conduct the route march only indoors in an auditorium or within four walls of compound. Across India, including places like Jammu and Kashmir, Kerala and West Bengal the route march are held in public roads, the above judgment is not acceptable to us. Hence RSS has decided to go for an appeal against this ruling and will not be holding the route march as planned on Nov 6, 2022."

The Single Judge had sought an intelligence report which was produced by the State Public Prosecutor in a sealed cover.

On a perusal of the said report, it revealed that the concerned Commissioner of Police/Superintendent of police referred to a number of FIRs registered during the year 2008 to 2020 in the places, where the petitioners sought permission to conduct procession and public meeting and stated that there will be a law and order issue if permission is granted to the respective petitioners to conduct procession and public meeting, the Court had noted.

However, the bench of Justice G.K. Ilanthiraiyan held that all the FIRs are very old and the reasons stated in the report cannot be accepted. The Court also held that mere pendency of the FIRs against the particular organization cannot be a ground to reject the request made by the petitioners.

While granting permission to the RSS to conduct procession, the Court had imposed certain conditions. The Court had directed that the procession and public meetings should be conducted in compounded premises such as Ground or Stadium. Further during the program, nobody shall either sing songs or speak ill on any individuals, any caste, religion, etc.

The Court had further directed that they should not indulge in any act disturbing the sovereignty and integrity of our country and the program should be conducted without causing any hindrance to public or traffic.

The Court had also directed the participants to not bring any stick, lathi or weapon that may cause injury to anyone. The Court also added that in the procession, the processionists shall not by any manner offend the sentiments of any religious, linguistics, cultural and other groups.

Cause Title- G. Subramanian v. K.Phanindra Reddy, I.A.S. & Ors.