DK holds 'thaali' removal function, Madras HC stays event

Chennai: The controversial 'Mangalsutra (Thaali) removal function', organised by the Dravidar Kazhagam, was held early this morning before the Madras High Court ordered a stay on organising of the event.

"The function was held in accordance with the permission granted (by a single judge of the High Court yesterday)," DK President K Veeramani told reporters here. "About 25 women removed their thaali voluntarily," he said, adding, they had donated the gold to the DK.

A woman participant said she felt "relieved" as she saw it as only as a "symbol of insult." "There will be no problem for me if there is no thaali tied around my neck," she said. Several participants attired in black were seen at the function. However, the High Court, which took up hearing of the state government appeal against the single judge order, ordered stay on the 'Mangalsutra removal and beef banquet' function.

The court was informed about the holding of the 'thaali' removal function this morning when it met for the day. The 'beef banquet' was scheduled to be held this evening. Quashing orders banning the event by DK today, Justice D Hari Paranthaman had yesterday allowed its conduct, holding that preserving the rights guaranteed under the Constitution, including freedom of expression, was its priority.

Hearing an appeal filed by the state government challenging the order, a division bench today said: "The question raised in the appeal is substantial and public importance as to whether Fundamental Right, Freedom of Speech and Expression and also to assemble peacefully be permitted to an extent of destroying the fabric and ethos of Indian Culture causing law and order problem in the light of availability of proper enactment under Article 19(2) (3) of Constitution of India. Hence we admit writ appeal."

"Single judge order is stayed," the bench, comprising justices Satish K. Agnihotri and M. Venugopal, said at a special sitting at the residence of justice Agnihotri. The matter pertains to a petition filed by DK against the orders of Assistant Commissioner of Police restraining them from performing the function that was scheduled for today.

Advocate General A L Somayaji submitted that the Freedom of Expression and for forming an assembly peacefully, as enshrined in 19(1)(a)(b), was subject to reasonable restrictions.

He submitted that Section 41(2) empowers the Commissioner to prohibit any assembly or meeting if he considers such prohibition was necessary for preservation of public safety. There was a possibility of clash between two groups. To avoid the clash and problem in public Order the ban order under 41(2) was passed by the Commissioner, he submitted.

On their part, advocates D. Veerasekharan and senior counsel A. Thyagarajan, in their submission, said there was no threat to any public disturbance and tranquility. "The Thaali removal function is celebrated for several years and the part of Thaali removal function is over and only beef eating is yet to be conducted," they said. Stating that every individual was entitled to their own eating habit, they submitted that it was the duty and responsibility of police to maintain law and order and sought to dismiss the appeal.

After hearing both sides, the bench stayed the single judge order passed late last evening and posted the matter for further hearing on April 28.

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