CHENNAI: The Madras High Court on Thursday wondered whether the Marina stretch has any more space for building memorials? The court was hearing a petition by former chief minister J Jayalalithaa’s nephew J Deepak challenging the State government’s decision to convert the late leader’s residence, Veda Nilayam, into a public memorial.
The first bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy told the State Advocate General (AG) Vijay Narayan, “We do not mean any disrespect, but you cannot have this for successive Chief Ministers... you can have one Gandhi, maybe one Nehru, since he was the first, one Patel but if you keep extending the list you would have memorials for deputy chief ministers too...
This personality cult is not something that is great for a Republic or espoused in the Constitution.” When the Advocate General replied that it was a matter of government policy, the bench asked, “How long are you going to continue building memorials... haven’t you almost exhausted the Marina?”
It is not at all unusual, replied the AG. “Several States have built memorials for former chief ministers. In Tamil Nadu alone, there are memorials for 17 freedom fighters, former chief ministers or persons who have contributed immensely to the State,” he added. “When policies become absurd, that is where we come in,” observed the bench and directed the State to file a counter in four weeks.