BEFORE THE MADURAI BENCH OF MADRAS HIGH COURT DATED: 21.12.2015 CORAM THE HON'BLE MR.JUSTICE S.VAIDYANATHAN W.P.(MD) No.17814 of 2015 and M.P.(MD) No.1 of 2015 NATIONAL SOUTH INDIAN RIVER INTERLINKING AGRICULTURIST SANGAM, REP. BY ITS STATE PRESIDENT, P. AYYAKANNU, AGE 68, S/O. PONNUSAMY, NO.3, MALAR SALAI, ANNAMALAINAGAR, TRICHY 18. ... Petitioner vs 1. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Lalgudi, Trichy District. 2. The Inspector of Police, Samayapuram, Trichy District. .. Respondents Prayer Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India for issuance of a writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, calling for the records of the 1st respondent in Na.Ka.No.71/Jf.(yh)-2015 dated 10.09.2015 and quash the same as illegal and direct the respondents to grant permission to the petitioner's Association for conducting fasting struggle continuously for one month near the Perambalur Bus Stop at No.1, Tollgate, Trichy-Perambalur Main Road, Trichy. !For Petitioner : Mr.S.Muthukrishnan For Respondents : Mr.K.Chellpandian, AAG Assisted by Mr.D.Muruganandam, AGP :ORDER
This writ petition has been filed, seeking to quash the order dated 10.09.2015, declining permission to conduct the fasting struggle under the provisions of Section 30(2) of the Police Act.
2. The case of the petitioner in nutshell is as follows:
i) It is submitted that the petitioner is a Sangam, fighting for the welfare of the agriculturist in Tamil Nadu and conducting various struggles to draw the attention of the State and the Central Governments to solve the problems of the agriculturist. Since there is no release of water from the Mettur Dam in due time for the agricultural operation, 75% of the lands in the Delta area remain uncultivated for the past 4 years. It is also submitted that there is no water in the well, ponds and other water bodies, due to which, 90% of the lake irrigated lands and the well irrigated lands are without cultivation. In the meantime, the Governments are taking steps to collect the loan from the agriculturists and his Sangam demands to waive off the agricultural loans of the agriculturist.
ii) It is further submitted that since water is the main source for cultivation, his Sangam demands the need for implementation of interlinking of river water in India, insisting upon each and every panchayat union and the villagers to organize the agriculturists to fight for the struggles. It is stated that the petitioner Sangam decided to observe continuous fasting for one month near the Perambalur Bus Stop at No.1, Tollgate, Trichy- Perambalur Main Road, Trichy from 15.09.2015 to 14.10.2015 and submitted a petitioner in this regard to the respondents. However, 1st respondent, vide order passed in Na.Ka.No.71/Jf.(yh)-2015 dated 10.09.2015, denied permission to conduct the fasting.
iii) It is also submitted that the Constitution of India guaranteed fundamental rights to every citizen to form an Association and conduct the struggle to redress the grievances of the Public at large. Due to paucity of water, the farmers are not in a position to harvest their lands and are compelled to repay their loans obtained from various Banks and Co-operative Societies. It is stated that the petitioner Sangam has decided to struggle for the welfare of the agriculturists in Gandhian way. Therefore, the order of the 1st respondent, besides arbitrary, unreasonable and illegal, is against law and facts and the same has to be set aside.
3. The first respondent has filed a counter, by contending that the representation given by the petitioner was rejected on the following reasons:
i) Section 30(2) of Police Act is in force within the limits wherein the petitioner has sought permission for conducting struggle;
ii) The place wherein permission was sought for by the petitioner to conduct struggle is not the specified and permitted place to conduct meetings, processions, fasting and agitations.
iii) The place, where permission sought by the petitioner is very close to the National Highways and there is heavy traffic movements. If permission for the said struggle is granted in that area, it will cause hardship to general public and the traffic flow will definitely be heavily affected;
iv) As per the directions of the Hon'ble High Court, permission for struggles, processions, agitations and meetings should not be granted within the limits of the National Highways;
v) On the earlier occasions, in the agitations conducted by the petitioner and his men resulted in law and order issues and cases were registered against the petitioner and his men in Kollidam PS Cr.No.22/2014 for offence under Sections 147, 353 of IPC r/w 7(1)(a) of CLA Act and in Mannachanallur Police Station, in Crime No.114 of 2015 for offence under Sections 151 of Cr.P.C., r/w 7(1)(a) of CLA Act @ 143, 341, 353 & 188 of IPC. Such unruly activities of the petitioner has caused hardship to general public and also law enforcing agency;
vi) The period of one month required by the petitioner is a very long period to be considered. This may create an ambient for other political organizations or any other organizations to stage such activities in National Highways and also create a great hardship to general public and for law enforcing agencies.
3.1. It is stated in the counter that the place wherein permission was sought for by the petitioner is the prime locality with regular inflow of large number of people as well as vehicles. Further, a lot of pilgrims are making pilgrimages to Srirengam, Thiruvanaikovil and Samayapuram Temples by walk regularly and therefore, the struggle of the petitioner will cause irreparable hardship and nuisance to the public and the traffic. Thus, it is prayed that the writ petition is liable to be dismissed.
4. The counsel for the petitioner has submitted that the act of the respondents in depriving the rights of the petitioner is wholly unsustainable. The respondents curtail the fundamental rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India to form association so as to conduct a struggle to redress the grievances of the public at large.
5. On the contrary, the Additional Advocate General, appearing for the respondents has contended that earlier, the members of the petitioner Sangam created severe law and order problem by dressing up as corpses in a symbolic protest to highlight the plight of the farmers, which forced the police authorities to deploy at the venue quickly to whisk away the members of the Sangam. The members of the petitioner Sangam previously conducted agitation by wearing briefs without upper cloth, which caused great embarrassment to the general public. The main purpose of the petitioner is to gain publicity and not anything else and therefore, he prayed for dismissal of the petition.
6. Heard the counsel for the parties and perused records.
7. A circumspection of the fact would reveal that the petitioner, in order to insist upon the need for interlinking of rivers in India, has decided to observe continuous fasting for one month near the Perambalur Bus Stop at No.1, Tollgate, Trichy-Perambalur Main Road, Trichy from 15.09.2015 to 14.10.2015 to draw the attention of the Government in this regard. Since such permission was not granted by the respondent Police, the petitioner is before this Court, seeking the relief stated supra.
8. It is no doubt true that the connotation of the petitioner is appreciable. This writ petition calls for careful consideration, the project and dream of interlinking rivers across this country. In fact, this idea was first conceived in colonial times by Sir Arthur Cotton and the Statesman Technocrat Sir C.P.Ramaswamy Iyer and was reiterated in recent times by the late President of India, Dr.A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, who observed -
??It is paradoxical to see floods in one part of the country while some other parts face drought. This drought-flood phenomenon is a recurring feature. The need of the hour is to have a water mission which will enable availability of water to the fields, villages, towns and industries throughout the year even while maintaining environmental purity. One major part of the water mission would be networking of our rivers. Technological and project management capabilities of our country can rise to the occasion and make this river networking a reality with long-term planning and proper investment.?
For him, networking of rivers would facilitate prevention of inter state river water disputes and cement the emotional unity of India.
9. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of In Re Netowrking of Rivers, reported in (2012) 4 SCC 51, undertook a multidimensional examination of this subject, by optimistically observing as under:
? There shall be greater growth in agricultural and allied sectors, prosperity and stimulus to the economy potentially causing increase in per capita income, in addition to the short and long term benefits likely to accrue by such implementation. These would accrue if the expert 43 recommendations are implemented properly and within a timeframe. Then there shall be hardly any financial strain on the economy. On the contrary, such implementation would help advancement of India?s GDP and bring greater wealth and prosperity to the nation as a whole. Besides actual benefits accruing to the common man, the Governments also benefit from the definite possibility of saving the States from drought on the one hand and floods on the other. This project, when it becomes a reality, will provide immeasurable benefits. We see no reason as to why the Governments should not take appropriate and timely - interest in the execution of this project?.
10. However, that being the brighter side, it has to be noted that the interlinking of rivers in India has been met with concerted opposition and criticism from policy and environmental angles. The late Ramaswamy R Iyer, Former Union Water Resources Secretary and an outspoken critic on water related issues sized up the various aspects of this mammoth task -?Barring a few cases where short gravity links may be feasible, inter-basin transfers generally involve the carrying of water across the natural barrier between basins (which is what makes them basins) by lifting, or by tunnelling through, or by a long circuitous routing around the mountains if such a possibility exists in a given case. Exceptionally heavy capital investments and continuing energy costs (in operation) are almost always likely to be involved. In addition, big dams, reservoirs and conveyance systems will need to be built, involving substantial environmental impacts and displacement/rehabilitation problems. All this will need to be looked at very closely in every case. Thorough Environmental Impact Assessments, Cost- Benefit (multi-criteria) analyses, qualitative assessments of non- quantifiable considerations, and based on these, rigorous investment appraisals, will need to be undertaken.? [Ramaswamy R Iyer, ?Linking Rivers: Vision or Mirage" Frontline, Volume 19 - Issue 25, December 07 - 20, 2002].
11. In the case on hand, the question to be decided is with regard to the grant of permission to conduct fasting struggle continuously. There is no doubt true that agitation takes place everywhere in this country insisting upon the need for interlinking of rivers, but at the same time, when the water bodies are filled with only bricks and cements, raising voice in support of interlinking of rivers in India can only be construed as a phantasm. But, for this reason, the petitioner cannot be prevented from conducting fast struggle in a democratic manner. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Prithipal Singh & Ors. v. State of Punjab & Another, reported in (2012) 1 SCC 10, while dealing with the violation of Human Rights by Police Officials, has been pleased to hold as under:
?The right to life has rightly been characterized as ?supreme?and 'basic'; it includes both so-called negative and positive obligations for the State?. The negative obligation means the overall prohibition on arbitrary deprivation of life. In this context, positive obligation requires that State has an overriding obligation to protect the right to life of every person within its territorial jurisdiction.?
12. Privacy and dignity of human life has always been considered a fundamental human right of every human being like any other key values such as freedom of association and freedom of speech. Therefore, every act which offends or impairs human dignity tantamounts to deprivation protanto of his right to live and the State action must be in accordance with reasonable, fair and just procedure established by law which stands the test of other fundamental rights. (Vide: Francis Coralie Mullin v. The Administrator, Union Territory of Delhi & Others, AIR 1981 SC 746)
13. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the recent judgment in Re-Ramlila Maidan Incident vs. Home Secretary and Others, reported in (2012) 5 SCC 1, has held as under:
?38. An individual is entitled to sleep as comfortably and as freely as he breathes. Sleep is essential for a human being to maintain the delicate balance of health necessary for its very existence and survival. Sleep is, therefore, a fundamental and basic requirement without which the existence of life itself would be in peril. To disturb sleep, therefore, would amount to torture which is now accepted as a violation of human right. It would be similar to a third degree method which at times is sought to be justified as a necessary police action to extract the truth out of an accused involved in heinous and coldblooded crimes. It is also a device adopted during warfare where prisoners of war and those involved in espionage are subjected to treatments depriving them of normal sleep.
39. Can such an attempt be permitted or justified in the given circumstances of the present case? Judicially and on the strength of impartial logic, the answer has to be in the negative as a sleeping crowd cannot be included within the bracket of an unlawful category unless there is sufficient material to brand it as such. The facts as uncovered and the procedural mandate having been blatantly violated, is malice in law and also the part played by the police and administration shows the outrageous behaviour which cannot be justified by law in any civilized society. For the reasons aforesaid, I concur with the directions issued by my learned colleague with a forewarning to the respondents to prevent any repetition of such hasty and unwarranted act affecting the safe living conditions of the citizens/persons in this country.?
14. From a perusal of the expert's opinion, it is obvious that though achievement of goal, viz., interlinking of rivers, is next to impossible, it aims at solving water scarcity existing in some parts of our country by utilizing the excess water being merged into the ocean at large. If water bodies are being maintained properly, the possibility of interlinking of river will be easier, otherwise, there will be a havoc to the society. Recent flood calamitous in Chennai is the classic example for non maintenance of rivers, ponds, dams etc. In the first page of The Hindu news dated 14.11.1985, it was reported that owing to heavy rainfall and flood, the then Chief Minister M.G.Ramachandran had shifted his residence to a Hotel and the concerned authorities should be vigilant to prohibit such things to recur.
15. In view of the foregoing reasons and taking note of the principles laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the case of Re-Ramlila Maidan Incident vs. Home Secretary and Others, this Court is of the view that the impugned order dated 10.09.2015 passed by the 1st respondent does not hold good and the same has to be set aside.
16. Accordingly, this Writ Petition is allowed and the impugned order dated 10.09.2015 is set aside. The 1st respondent is directed to consider the representation of the petitioner afresh bearing in mind the observation made hereinabove, within a period of one week from the date of receipt of S.VAIDYANATHAN,J., ar a copy of this order, at the venue chosen by the petitioner. However, the request of the petitioner to conduct fasting struggle for one month cannot be acceded to, as it will create several law and order problem and will also become menace to the society. No costs. Consequently, connected miscellaneous petition is closed.
1. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Lalgudi, Trichy District.
2. The Inspector of Police, Samayapuram, Trichy District.
3. The Additional Public Prosecutor, Madurai Bench of Madras High Court, Madurai..