Order, order

By NT Bureau Published on Sep 04, 2018 11:32 AM IST

Ever since the jallikattu protest happened there in 2017, Marina, known for providing free entertainment to millions of people in an otherwise costly city, came under the vigil of the police who suspected some agitation or the other to happen there and scrutinised visitors whenever there was a sensitive situation in the State which has lately become a synonym for protests. For, even after the police banned agitations at Marina, some fringe elements were particular about holding their demonstrations there in a bid to gain publicity. All these things caused discomfort to people visiting the beach to have some quality time with loved ones.

And in a welcome order on Monday, the Madras High Court upheld Tamilnadu government's decision to prohibit holding protests at Marina. The court rightly observed that the beach cannot be used for agitations as public order is equally important. The court passed this order while hearing a petition filed by P Ayyakannu, leader of a farmers’ organisation, who had challenged the denial of permission to him by the police to hold a protest at the beach. Ayyakannu had in his plea alleged that he had planned a hunger strike on the Cauvery issue at the beach given that it will attract the attention of the government.

For its part, the police said apart from the Jallikattu protest, no agitation had taken place at the Marina Beach for the last 15 years. It said for more than a decade, protests, demonstrations, agitations have been totally banned in the entire stretch of the Marina beach, commencing from Light House to Napier Bridge. After hearing both sides, the High Court refused to allow protests at Marina.

The order said: "The right to protest, no doubt, is available to all the citizens in a democratic country like ours. Unfortunately, this right to protest has been continuously misunderstood as a right to inconvenience the general public. The protesters who claim to espouse the cause of the public, often forget that their right to protest ends when the other person's right to free movement and 'right to not to listen to' starts." Now that the HC has passed an important and strong order, it is in the hands of the enforcement authorities (read police) to implement it in letter and spirit.