BENGALURU: The High Court will pass a final order on Friday on the petition challenging the seven-day ban on entry to the city imposed on Vishwa Hindu Parishad president Praveen Togadia.
On Thursday, Advocate General Ravi Varma Kumar said Togadia’s track record indicates he is a potential threat to communal harmony as he is a habitual offender. “This court should not allow the petitioner (Togadia) to deliver his speech at the cost of peace and tranquility.... Violence occurred in Koppal a day before Togadia’s visit,” he told Justice Abdul Nazeer.
He also said City Police Commissioner M N Reddi was very much in line when he issued the prohibitory order. The state can appoint any executive magistrate as additional district magistrate who can exercise the powers of deputy commissioner as per a notification issued in 1974. Similarly, Section 144(3) of the CrPC is a “tailor-made” provision for people like Togadia and it can be used in emergency situations like this, Kumar said.
In response, B V Acharya, senior counsel representing Togadia, contended that the programme, Virat Hindu Samajotsava, will be inaugurated by Dharmastala Dharmadhikari Veerendra Heggade, and the likes of Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and Madhu Pandit Das will take part. “How can the state deny entry to Togadia, who is just one among them?” he asked.
He argued that VHP is organising the convention to celebrate its golden jubilee and eight such meetings have already been held in the state with no violence reported.
“The reasons cited in the order are that Togadia is known for his Hindutva ideology, provocative and inflammatory speeches and that 19 cases are registered against him in various parts of the country. (These) are irrelevant and the ban order amounts to curbing of a person’s fundamental rights and freedom,” he said.
He added that Togadia was ready to give an undertaking that he would not make an inflammatory speech. But the advocate general objected saying that though the petitioner, based on his undertaking, can be prosecuted, any damage caused cannot be undone.
Govt Stand the Same on VHP, Owaisi Rallies, Asserts CM
The logjam in both Houses of the Legislature over the city police’s decision to deny entry to Praveen Togadia continued on Thursday with Chief Minister Siddaramaiah standing by the move.
As soon as the Houses convened on Thursday morning, BJP members began making a din.
Senior BJP leaders Jagadish Shettar and K S Eshwarappa continued their verbal attack on the government, accusing it of trying to muzzle freedom of speech of Hindu leaders. Both Houses witnessed repeated adjournments and BJP members staged a walkout in the Assembly after Siddaramaiah refused to budge.
At the Council, Siddaramaiah asserted that his government would not tolerate those “who try to vitiate communal harmony irrespective of their religion”. “We will not allow Togadia to address a rally and our stand is equally strong against MIM leader Asaduddin Owaisi, who has also sought permission to address a rally in Bengaluru,” he said.
However, BJP members were forced to give up their protest and participate in the proceedings after the Council’s deputy chairman Puttanna gave a ruling to take up Question Hour.