Addressing the issue of the repeated denial of permission to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) for conducting route marches in the State of Tamil Nadu despite judicial orders, the Supreme Court yesterday directed the State and Tamil Nadu Police to present a proposal before the High Court outlining the measures they intend to take to ensure that the RSS is granted permission to conduct route marches in the future without necessitating court's intervention.

The Court refused to close the contempt proceedings against the state pending before the High Court on the issue of non-compliance of the the direction to give permission for route marches and instead exempted the personal appearance of the officers before the High Court in the contempt proceedings.

The Bench of Justice Surya Kant and Justice Dipankar Datta were dealing with two Special Leave Petitions challenging the Madras High Court's orders granting permission to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to conduct route marches in all the requested locations. The appeals were filed by the State of Tamil Nadu and the Director General of Police against the order granting permission, passed by both the Principal Bench and the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court.

Senior Advocates Kapil Sibal and N.R. Elango appeared for the State while Senior Advocates Guru Krishna Kumar and Madhavi Divan appeared for the Respondents.

On the last date of hearing, the Court had directed the State of Tamil Nadu to grant permission for Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) to conduct route marches either on the 19th or 26th of November. The Court also directed the State to communicate its decision by November 15. Justice Kant had also remarked that the Court would ask some uncomfortable questions on the merits of the matter to the Tamil Nadu Government.

During the hearing, yesterday, the Court was informed by the Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the petitioners, that in deference and in compliance with the above-mentioned order, the RSS was permitted to conduct the Route March on November 19. On the basis of the same, Sibal requested the Supreme Court to close the contempt proceedings pending before the High Court for non-compliance of its order.

"Ordinarily, this would have been the end of the matter. However, Mr. Kapil Sibal, learned Senior Counsel points out that as the Route March could not be permitted to be conducted on the date(s) fixed by the High Court vide the impugned judgments, contempt proceedings have been initiated against the petitioners in which the High Court on 01.11.2023 observed that a prima facie case for violating the judicial orders was made out and hence Statutory Notice has been issued to the petitioners in one of these cases", observed the Court in its order.

On the other hand, RSS contended that the Apex Court may not close the contempt proceedings as the matter is between the High Court and the alleged contemnors. It was also pointed out that RSS was being compelled to approach the High Court every time they want to conduct a peaceful and law-abiding Route March and, that too, subject to such reasonable and fair conditions as may be imposed in accordance with law.

Noting the submissions, to avoid unnecessary litigation in future, the Court asked the State to submit a proposal before the High Court as to how in future they will ensure that the respondent-Organization is permitted to conduct the Route March."Having considered the rival submissions, it appears to us that the petitioner-authorities should in all fairness submit a proposal before the High Court as to how in future they will ensure that the respondent-Organization is permitted to conduct the Route March without seeking intervention of the Court. Such a proposal may be considered by the High Court only after inviting objections/suggestions from the respondent-Organization/its local units. Such a recourse is required to avoid unnecessary litigation in future", ordered the Court.

On the pending contempt proceedings before the High Court, the Bench stated, "It goes without saying that the petitioners shall be at liberty to apprise the High Court that they immediately availed their legal remedy against the directions issued by the High Court and, thereafter, have faithfully and earnestly complied with the order passed by this Court on 06.11.2023. We see no reason to doubt that the High Court shall take into consideration all the subsequent events, most importantly the proposal to be submitted on behalf of the petitioners for future course of action. The High Court may, accordingly, pass appropriate orders for which it is not expedient or desirable for this Court to express any opinion on merits."

The Court accordingly disposed of the Special Leave Petition.

Background: The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh had moved the Madras High Court when the State did not grant permission, despite their application, to conduct route marches in different parts of the state on the occasion of Vijaya Dashami. The Court had accordingly issued notice in the matter.

In the Contempt Petition filed by S. Raja Desingu through Advocate B. Rabu Manohar, it is submitted that despite approaching the Respondent's office and submitting a copy of the Court's judgment, permission to conduct the route marches was not granted. "It is the duty of the respondents to comply with the Directions issued in the judgement of the Hon’ble High Court dated 16.10.2023 and in spite of the specific directions issued by the Hon’ble High Court to grant permission at least three days prior to the date of the route march, the respondents have not complied or obeyed the judgement passed by the Hon’ble Court dated 16.10.2023", reads the Contempt Petition.

Cause Title: The Director General Of Police v. K.Chandrasekar & Connected Matter [SLP(C) No. 24161-24176/2023 & SLP(C) No. 24234-24265/2023]

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