The Madras High Court on Tuesday reserved its verdict on a petition seeking permission to stage a protest at the Marina Beach over the non-formation of the Cauvery Management Board, reported The Hindu.
The petition, filed by P Ayyakannu, the leader of a farmers’ body, said that he had planned a 90-day hunger strike on the Cauvery matter and it would attract attention only if it was held at Marina. Responding on behalf of the government, Additional Advocate General of Tamil Nadu Arvindh Pandian said that with the exception of the jallikattu protests in 2017, no protests had taken place at the beach since 2003.
Pandian argued that the state provided permission only for rallies that last for less than two hours. Ayyakannu countered that he was being prevented from conducting a protest on Marina beach because the government feared it would attract attention like the jallikattu protests.
Criticising the Tamil Nadu government, the High Court asked, “Is the Marina beach more important than Cauvery,” according to The News Minute. “On festival days like Vaikunda Ekadasi, Christmas and Ramzan, several lakh people go to worship at temples and churches. Will you say that you cannot control the crowds, so people should not celebrate those festivals?”
The court added that governments only have the authority to regulate protests and not ban them altogether. When the matter had come up for hearing on April 12, Justice T Raja told the petitioner to conduct a protest in a ‘dignified manner’, seemingly in reference to the protest held at Delhi’s Jantar Mantar in September, when farmers from Tamil Nadu ate human excreta and threatened to march nude to the prime minister’s office.