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Anti-expressway agitation: Directive to police on arrest of protesters
The Madras High Court has directed the State police to abstain from arresting those protesting peacefully against the Chennai-Salem Expressway, as some of those who might lose their land if the project is implemented are entitled to express their opinion.
A division bench comprising Justices T S Sivagnanam and Bhavani Subbaroyan said: “There may be cases where under the guise of protest a mischief-maker may intervene to cause disturbance. Police are expected to know the difference between a genuine protestor and a busybody. Indiscriminate arrest and detention for expressing democratic views should be avoided.”
During the hearing on Wednesday, advocate Nagasaila, representing some of the landowners submitted that one of the petitioners was arrested by the local police while he was obtaining signatures of residents opposing the project and has been detained in a marriage hall. Another counsel representing a PIL petitioner also alleged that a few peaceful protestors were arrested in Salem.
Recording the submissions, the bench said: “In our considered view if there is a peaceful protest, the State police should refrain from taking the extreme step of arrest and detention of the persons as some of them might lose their land if the project is implemented.”
Also, the bench on pointing out to its earlier interim orders said: “This court in earlier orders has observed that the State government or its machinery should not precipitate things in the matter more so in the light of the timelines mentioned in terms of reference.”
“Let the authorities be reminded of the interim order passed by the court and necessary instructions may be given by the government pleader to all the authorities concerned that no form of precipitated action should be initiated against persons who want to express their views in peaceful and democratic manner, more particularly the land owners who are entitled to express their views against the acquisition proceedings,” the division bench stressed.