Hearing of DMK plea adjourned till 8 am

Supporters gather as an ambulance carrying the remains of Indian Tamil leader M. Karunanidhi. PTI Photo

DMK chief M Karunanidhi, a colossus in Tamil Nadu politics, poet, columnist and scriptwriter, who left an indelible imprint on the state's public life for over five decades, died on Tuesday, setting the stage for a late night courtroom drama over where he shall be buried.

Within minutes of Karunanidhi's death, a huge row erupted after the state's AIADMK government rejected the demand of the DMK, its long-standing political rival in state politics, for land on the famed sands of the Marina beach where he could be buried.

Wasting no time, DMK's counsel P Wilson and A Sarvanan rushed to the residence of H G Ramesh, the Acting Chief Justice of the Madras High Court, with a plea to direct the state government to revoke its decision denying permission for Karunanidhi's burial and erection of a memorial to him on the beach.

Their plea was granted and Justice Ramesh and his fellow judge S S Sundar began hearing the petition minutes before midnight.

The judges heard the arguments by counsel for the DMK and the state government before adjourning the matter around 1.15 a.m for resumed hearing at 8 in the morning.

The DMK counsel wanted to know the legal ground on which its demand was rejected following which the advocates for the government pleaded for time till morning to file a counter affidavit which the court allowed.

In a twist to the late night proceedings, unprecedented in Tamil Nadu's legal history, two of the petitioners who had moved the court against late chief minister J Jayalalithaa's burial at the Marina and construction of a memorial there, withdrew their applications.

One of them, advocate S Duraisamy, said the claim of the government that the memorial to Karunanidhi's mentor and former chief minister C N Annadurai facing the Marina beach, where the DMK sought land for its leader's burial, was in an ecologically sensitive zone, was "misleading".

He told reporters outside the Acting Chief Justice's residence that it was on the banks of the Cooum river close to the beach but not in the eco-sensitive zone like the memorials of Jayalalithaa and former AIADMK chief minister the late M G Ramachandran.

Similarly, K Balu of PMK also withdrew his petition seeking the court's direction against the use of the Marina as a burial ground.

Earlier in the day, another PIL filed in the Madras High Court seeking to restrain the Corporation of Greater Chennai from permitting any burial of bodies on the Marina beach was dismissed as withdrawn.

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Hearing of DMK plea adjourned till 8 am

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