Chennai, April 14: 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.
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 tranquillity. "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.
The event had been banned by the city police and DK chief K Veeramani was booked on various charges, including promoting enmity on grounds of religion. Strongly opposed by Hindu outfits, the event was announced by DK after a Tamil news TV channel had last month cancelled a programme "Thaali (Mangalsutra) a boon or bane", following protest from Hindu Munnani, a Sangh Parivar outfit.
"Beef banquet" was announced as a mark of DK's opposition to the idea of banning cow slaughter, beef-eating and a related recent ban in Maharashtra.
The single judge had allowed a petition by DK apart from permitting it to peacefully conduct programmes to be celebrated today in connection with the 125th birth anniversary celebrations of B R Ambedkar. All India Hindu Maha Sabha had filed a complaint against holding the programme. As there was no action, they moved the Madras High Court on which Justice P N Prakash directed it to file a complaint before the jurisdictional police which in turn would have had to file an FIR if cognizable offence was made out.
Sabha vice president Dhanasekharan did so and police filed an FIR against Veeramani, following which DK moved the High Court.