The Madras High Court on Monday upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s decision to prohibit holding any protests at Marina Beach in Chennai, ANI reported. The court said the beach cannot be used for agitations as maintaining public order is equally important.

The verdict came on a petition filed in April seeking permission to stage a protest at the beach over the non-formation of the Cauvery Management Board. P Ayyakannu, the leader of a farmers’ body, said 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 had 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 holding a protest on Marina Beach because the government feared it would attract attention like the jallikattu one.

During the previous hearing, the court had said that governments only have the authority to regulate protests and not ban them altogether.