Madras HC allows burial of slain BSP leader Armstrong's body on private land in Thiruvallur

Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan passed the orders at a special session of the court based on petition filed by Armstrong’s wife.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati pays her last respects to the mortal remains of party leader K. Armstrong, who was hacked to death by a six-member gang, in Chennai, Sunday.
Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati pays her last respects to the mortal remains of party leader K. Armstrong, who was hacked to death by a six-member gang, in Chennai, Sunday.(Photo | P Ravikumar, EPS)

CHENNAI: The Madras High Court has permitted the burial of slain BSP leader and advocate K Armstrong’s mortal remains on a private land in Thiruvallur district owned by one of his relatives.

The order was passed by Justice V Bhavani Subbaroyan, in a special session on Sunday, after hearing a petition filed by the slain leader’s wife, Porkodi.

The petitioner, in fact, moved the court an urgent petition on Saturday seeking a direction to the authorities of the Greater Chennai Corporation (GCC) to grant permission for burying the body in the premises of the party office at Perambur in Chennai.

When the petition came up for hearing before Justice Bhavani, advocate R Sankarasubbu, appearing for Porkodi, submitted that the GCC hasn’t taken a decision on the matter.

However, Additional Advocate General (AAG) J Ravindran informed the court that the application was rejected as the proposed site is a residential area and the space and pathway are inadequate.

He suggested that the burial could be held at a place, 1.5 km away from the proposed site, and the government is willing to provide a specific area.

The petitioner’s counsel objected to the suggestion and pressed for granting permission to bury the body in the party office premises so that party men and supporters can raise a memorial and cherish his memory.

Refusing to accept it, the judge pointed out that permission cannot be granted for burial in a residential area because the public should not be put in trouble due to inadequate space and access roads.

Yet, she suggested that the body could be buried at the site offered by the government and later exhumed to some other place with enough space and access facilities for raising a memorial in future.

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When the matter was taken up again at 12 pm after passing over, the petitioner’s counsel informed that a fresh site of 2400 sq. ft. was identified near the party office and sought the court to issue directions to grant permission.

The AAG said that burial and raising memorial cannot be allowed in residential area because it may spell trouble for the public in the future. He said one of the relatives of Armstrong owns one acre of land at Pothur in Thiruvallur district and the land is suitable for burial and the government is willing to grant permission if sought.

Expressing concern over the delay in carrying out the funeral rites impacting the recovery of the petitioner from the loss and grief, the judge said she cannot keep on sitting beside the body for long as she has to come out of the grief.

Since the school, where the body has been kept in display for supporters to pay homage, has to be reopened on Monday, the body cannot be allowed to be kept there for long, the judge said, and instructed the petitioner to carry out the funeral at the earliest, particularly by Sunday.

The judge again passed over the matter at 2.15 pm.

When the court resumed proceedings, accordingly, Ravindran informed that the Pothur village panchayat has passed a resolution in an urgent meeting of the council on Sunday for burying the body based on an application filed by the landowner, Latha and that it was approved by the concerned authorities.

"The permission was granted under Section 7 of the Tamil Nadu Village Panchayat (Provision of Burial and Burning Grounds) Rules 1999,” he told the court.

The counsels for the petitioners still stressed for permission for the alternative site in Perambur; however, they agreed to lay the mortal remains at Pothur.

Subsequently, the judge passed the orders permitting burial at Pothur. She directed the concerned authorities of the government to consider, in accordance with the law, the representation to be given by the petitioner for constructing a memorial or school or hospital of her choice at the alternative site in the future.

Justice Bhavani Subbaroyan refused to instruct the government to consider providing ‘state respect’ to Armstrong as sought by his counsels but orally stated that the government to consider if a representation is given.

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