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‘Atrocious…this is a homogenous society’: SC reprimands DMK-led TN govt for banning live telecast of Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha event

The apex court reprimanded the Tamil Nadu government saying that permission cannot be denied just because other communities live in a neighbourhood.

On Monday, January 22, the Supreme Court issued a notice to Tamil Nadu, saying that permission for the live telecast of the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha ceremony cannot be rejected. The apex court reprimanded the Tamil Nadu government saying that permission cannot be denied just because other communities live in a neighbourhood.

Terming the reason provided by the DMK government as “atrocious”, the apex court said during Monday’s hearing, “This is a homogenous society, do not prevent only on this ground (that there are other communities).” It sought a response on the matter from the state government and the DGP of the state.

“If the order on page 21 (of the petition) is to be made applicable across Tamil Nadu, wherever there are minorities, they will never be able to hold a prayer meeting… See the reason. Here the Hindus are in the minority, if they are permitted to hold this prior meeting that will cause problems in the society. Is this a reason?” asked Justice Dipankar Datta, who was part of a two-judge bench.

“You regulate it, you have the power. You have the power to pass orders regulating all these processions. But this reason is atrocious,” Justice Datta added.

The bench presided by Justice Sanjiv Khanna was hearing a pea which alleged that on January 20, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M K Stalin had “issued oral orders/Directions to the Police Department not to permit any kind of Poojas, Archanas, Annadhanam, Live Telecast of Pran Prathishta, Bhajans and processions in the name of Lord Ram on the auspicious occasion of “Pran Prathista” of Lord Ram at Ayodhya, in all the Temples in the State of Tamil Nadu irrespective of whether it is a Private Temple controlled by the TN HRCE Department”.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the bench that he received information that certain police stations had issued written directives. He also said that the highest constitutional court needed to send a message stating that what is happening is unacceptable.

The court was particularly offended by the response of the deputy superintendent of police of Dindigul Rural Sub Division to an application from the administrators of Sri Bhagavatiyamman Temple, asking for permission to perform special almsgiving (Annadanam) in reverence of the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha.

Among other things, the police note said, “The area of A Vellodu village, where you have requested permission to conduct the event, is predominantly inhabited by Christians. Additionally, there are areas with Christian temples. Due to the lower number of Hindu residents in this village, there is a possibility of encountering cultural sensitivities or legal complications related to public peace and morality when organizing events that are perceived as deviating from the prevailing religious practices”.

“Also, public peace is likely to be affected by the programme proposed to be conducted and law and order problems are likely to arise. Religious problems also are likely to arise, public property is likely to be damaged and the public is likely to be put to discomfort. Therefore, due to the above reasons, permission is denied for the program you want to conduct”.

Judge Khanna disapproved of this and added that law and order can be a reason to regulate, but what is stated in the order alone can’t be the reason. “We have made it very clear. We want to know the reason. If this is the reason going to be given, you will be in trouble,” Justice Khanna cautioned the Tamil Nadu counsel.

Notably, the Madras HC on Monday also ruled that no permission is needed from the state police or the state government for a live screening of Pran Pratishtha at private temples and halls. The High Court also said that it is open to the organisers to make arrangements for LIVE streaming of the inauguration ceremony.

On 22nd January, Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman slammed the Tamil Nadu government for not allowing live telecast of Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha in temples. FM Sitharaman was scheduled to witness the ceremony live at a private temple in a small village in Tamil Nadu. However, the police personnel came in plain clothes and removed the LEDs.

FM Sitharaman voiced her concerns about the repression of religious festivities and the infringement of Hindus’ rights by the DMK-led state government.

Earlier, on 21st January, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) criticised the DMK-led Tamil Nadu government for prohibiting special poojas and food offerings in temples during the Ram Mandir Pran Prathistha.

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