The State submitted a copy of the prohibitory order imposed in parts of Thoothukudi under Section 144 of CrPC in May to the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday. The order was passed by the Collector based on the representation given by Sterlite Copper following directions from the High Court Bench. The court had directed that prohibitory orders may be promulgated throughout the district in the interest of public order, peace and tranquillity.
The General Manager (Legal), Sterlite Copper, in his representation, said that inflammatory messages were being circulated on social media platforms against Sterlite which might lead to unrest and disturb peace and tranquillity in the area and endanger the safety of employees of the Sterlite plant. The company had sought prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC for a radius of 500 metres around the plant and its residential quarters.
The order signed by the District Magistrate and Collector of Thoothukudi read “ …. with a view to maintain (sic) law and order and to avoid disturbance of public tranquillity….. promulgate an order under Section 144 CrPC in SIPCOT and Thoothukudi South Police Station limits prohibiting any public meeting or assembly of five or more persons or processions for a period from 2200 hrs on 21.05.2018 to 0800 hrs on 23.05.2018.” The order prohibited the entry of all types of vehicles carrying persons intending to participate in ‘Muttrugai Porattam’ on May 22 within the SIPCOT and Thoothukudi South police station limits.
However, the order did not apply to regular stage carriages, tourist vehicles plying to other places, goods carriages, vehicles carrying school and college students, essential commodities and regular omni buses. The order also did not apply to public gatherings taking place with the permission of competent police authorities, it read.
Advocate A. W. D. Tilak had filed the public interest litigation petition before the High Court Bench seeking a direction to the Thoothukudi Collector to produce the copy of the prohibitory order clamped in parts of Thoothukudi during the anti-Sterlite protest. A division bench of Justices C. T. Selvam and A. M. Basheer Ahamed adjourned the case to July 11 for further hearing.
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