Madras HC allows TN to erect banners for Modi, Xi meet

Madras High Court in Chennai. (DH file photo)

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) and Tamil Nadu government can erect banners from Chennai Airport to the coastal town of Mamallapuram to welcome Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chinese President Xi Jinping for their informal summit later this month without “causing inconvenience to the public”, the Madras High Court ruled on Thursday.

A division bench of Justices M Sathyanarayanan and Justice N Seshasayee told the Tamil Nadu government that there was no need for court’s permission since the ban regarding erecting of banners was only limited to political parties in the state.

The Tamil Nadu government had on October 1 moved the court seeking its permission to install 30 flex banners from the Airport to Mamallapuram welcoming the dignitaries on behalf of the state and the MEA. The state government’s move came in the midst of a major row over erecting of banners without due permission from local authorities that led to the death of a 23-year-old techie, Subhasri Ravi.

Also read — Chennai techie death: Ex-AIADMK leader held

Subhasri, who was riding a motorcycle, was crushed to death by a water tanker on September 12 after a banner erected by a local AIADMK functionary fell on her and lost balance. She was run over by a speeding water tanker. After the incident, the court has been quite angry with government officials for allowing those responsible to erecting illegal banners.

Hearing the petition, the division bench posed several questions to the Tamil Nadu government seeking to know whether banners are erected in New Delhi every time a foreign leader visits the capital. The state government told the court that it was only informing the judicial institution about the need for erecting banners to welcome the dignitaries and not seeking permission.

At the end of the hearing, the Judges allowed installation of banners without causing inconvenience to the people. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will host Chinese President Xi Jinping in Mamallapuram from October 11 to 13 for informal talks between the two countries.

Modi and Xi Jinping are likely to stay at a five-star resort near Mamallapuram. This is the second time that PM Modi will host Xi Jinping outside New Delhi in five years — he had hosted the Chinese President in his home state of Gujarat in 2014.

Officials from the MEA and security agencies like Special Protection group (SPG) and the concerned from the Chinese side have held several rounds of talks in the coastal town to review the arrangements. Security has also been tightened along the East Coast Road (ECR) with police stepping up round-the-clock surveillance.

Modi and Xi Jinping are expected to arrive at Chennai Airport on October 11 through separate planes and would take chopper to Thiruvidanthai, where a helipad was established in 2018 for the DefenceExpo. From there, they would take the road to their resort or hotel.

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