On January 22, the Supreme Court, in a notable departure from its previous stance, directed the Tamil Nadu Government to refrain from denying permission for the live streaming of the Ram Mandir Pran Pratishtha, following a petition from a BJP functionary. The petitioner raised concerns over the Tamil Nadu Government’s alleged ban on live telecasts of Ayodhya Mandir ceremonies and the performance of rituals on January 22. Justices Sanjiv Khanna and Dipankar Datta emphasized that rejecting permissions based on the presence of a minority community nearby could pose legal repercussions for the State Government.
Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman condemned reported threats by certain groups to dismantle pandals, labelling the actions as anti-Hindu and hateful. Tamil Nadu BJP Chief K Annamalai affirmed their intention to proceed with the program despite potential consequences, asserting their preparedness to face any challenges.
#SupremeCourt to hear at 10.30 AM today a petition filed by Tamil Nadu BJP member seeking directions to permit live streaming of the #RamMandirPranPrathistha ceremony.#TamilNadu #AyodhyaRamMandir pic.twitter.com/dgSmetGVHj
— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 22, 2024
The DMK Government dismissed the allegations, labelling them as a “motivated report aimed at tarnishing the State Government’s reputation.” It clarified that permissions had indeed been granted for the events. The Judges instructed the DMK Government to maintain records of all applications received and approvals granted. Additionally, they emphasised the importance of documenting detailed orders in writing for any rejections.
On January 29, the Tamil Nadu Government informed the Supreme Court that it had authorised the performance of ‘puja’ and other ceremonies at 252 locations across the state on January 22 during the consecration ceremony at Ayodhya’s Ram Mandir. However, permissions were denied for 36 other locations due to concerns related to law and order.
During today’s court session, the Director General of Police and Chief of Police Force in Tamil Nadu submitted a sworn statement to the Supreme Court, acknowledging that only 4 out of 288 applications for ceremonies related to the Ayodhya Ram Mandir’s ‘Pran Pratishtha’ on January 22 were sanctioned before the intervention of the Madras High Court. The statement also asserts that the State Government does not hold an anti-Hindu stance, contrary to what the petitioner claims.
However, according to the affidavit filed by the DGP before the High Court’s directive, out of the 288 applications received, only four were granted approval, 146 were declined, and 138 were held pending verification. All 22 applications for live streaming the event in public spaces were rejected. Additionally, among the 15 applications received for live streaming events from Ayodhya in Mandirs and other indoor locations in the State, seven were refused, and eight were kept pending for verification. Out of the 226 applications for Bhajans, Annadhanams, and special poojas in public spaces, only four were sanctioned while 94 were rejected.
Earlier, during an emergency hearing on January 22, the Madras High Court authorized the livestreaming of the event, stating that singing Bhajans, chanting Rama Nama, and conducting Annadhanams are not inherently prohibited or restricted. Following the High Court’s directive, the affidavit submitted by the DGP before the Supreme Court revealed that out of the 288 applications, only four were rejected, while 248 were executed.
According to the affidavit, the portrayal of the Tamil Nadu Government as anti-Hindu is deemed “totally false and condemnable.” It also refutes claims that the petition was used to defame the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, labelling certain assertions against him as derogatory. The DGP emphasised that the Chief Minister did not issue any such instructions to the police department, suggesting that such allegations were made solely for the petitioner’s convenience in filing the writ petition.
Following restrictions imposed by the police, HR, and CE, a writ petition was lodged in the Madras High Court. The court ruled that live telecasts of the ceremony in private enclosures do not require permission. However, events held in public spaces and mandirs under the control of the police and HR and CE Department necessitate prior notification. The Tamil Nadu government orally instructed officials not to authorise such events to ensure safety.
Instances of denial of permission, leaked communications, audio recordings, and police interventions demonstrate how devotees in Tamil Nadu were deprived of celebrating the Ram Mandir consecration. In Kancheepuram, police dismantled TV screens, chairs, and a pandal where Nirmala Sitharaman was to participate.
Processions carrying Ram portraits were barred in certain areas, while one individual transported a portrait on his scooter. Allegations suggest that devotees faced obstruction from police while conducting rituals at the Srirangam Mandir on January 22, 2024. These incidents reflect a larger pattern of restrictions under the DMK government, sparking controversy over devotees’ rights to celebrate the Ram Mandir consecration.