20 March 2012
No.5, 4th Street
Chennai. 600 001
1) The Chief Secretary to Government
Government of Tamil Nadu
Chennai. 600 009
2) The District Collector
It is reported in The Hindu dated 20 March 2012 that a prohibitory order under Section 144 of Criminal Procedure Code was clamped on Radhapuram Taluk and that it would remain in force until 2nd April 2012. Nothing would be more shocking to a freedom loving citizen than an order prohibiting the people of the whole Taluk from moving from one place to another.
As you are aware the Supreme Court has in Gulam Abbas and others vs State of UP and others : AIR 1981 SC 2198 held : “The entire basis of action under Section 144 is provided by the urgency of the situation and the power there under is intended to be availed of for preventing disorders, obstructions and annoyances with a view to secure the public weal by maintaining public peace and tranquility. Preservation of public peace and tranquility is the primary function of the government and the aforesaid power is conferred on the executive magistracy enabling it to perform that function effectively during emergent situations and as such it may become necessary for the executive magistrate to override temporarily private rights and in a given situation the power must extend to restraining individual from doing acts perfectly lawful in themselves, for, it is obvious that when there is a conflict between the public interest and private rights the former must prevail.”
You have, in exercise of the powers under section 144 Cr. P.C., almost kept thousands of people living in about 50 villages in Radhapuram Taluk under house arrest. It is learnt that more than 3000 people largely women and children who are participants in the protest against commissioning of Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant are today unable to move from the place of the protest and are unable to reach their houses. Even the school going children, who came to meet their parents near the place of protest do not have any other option but to remain with their parents even without food and other basic amenities.
As you are aware, the purpose of clamping an order under section 144 Cr. P.C. should always be public interest and nothing but public interest. Placing thousands of people including women and children under house arrest would never be termed to be in public interest.
The fundamental rights of the people to move freely from one place to other place, from one village to other village, from his / her house to any place of their choice can never be curtailed by any authority including the Executive Magistrate except in public interest. Admittedly the protest which is alleged to be posing a threat to the administration is a non-violent protest. The protestors are largely women. No untoward incident whatsoever has so far happened on account of the protest. The protest has been going on for months together. The Hon’ble Chief Minister was pleased to meet the representatives of protestors and have a discussion not long ago. Nowhere it is reported that the protestors were ever the cause of any unrest in the society.
This being the state of affairs, in Koodankulam and nearby villages, clamping of an order under section 144 Cr. P.C. would be totally violative of Articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution and you have, by an executive order, deprived all the people in Radhapuram Taluk of their valuable fundamental right to live with dignity. They are made to live in prison since the promulgation of your order under Section 144 Cr.P.C.
Kindly take notice that if the order under section 144 Cr. P.C. clamped on the entire Radhapuram Taluk is not immediately withdrawn and if the people are not allowed to move freely anywhere in Radhapuram Taluk with adequate police protection, I would be compelled to move the Hon’ble High Court of Judicature at Madras by way of a Writ Petition / Habeas Corpus Petition for the purpose of safeguarding the fundamental rights of the people of Radhapuram Taluk, Tirunelveli District.