The Telangana high court on Wednesday directed the state government to hold the Republic Day celebrations, including the ceremonial parade, according to the guidelines of the Centre.
Acting on a public interest litigation (PIL) petition filed by advocate K Srinivas, a single judge bench of the high court headed by justice P Madhavi Devi found fault with the state government for citing Covid-19 protocol as the reason for not holding the celebrations for the Republic Day in a public place.
The judge directed that “the government should make all arrangements for the Republic Day celebrations, including the customary ceremonial parade of police forces and guard of honour for the governor, as per the central guidelines”.
Justice Devi also asked the government to allow the people to attend the celebrations. She, however, left it to the discretion of the government to choose the place for conducting the celebrations.
An official from Raj Bhavan, on the condition of anonymity, said that governor Tamilisai Soundararajan will be unfurling the national flag at 7 am at Raj Bhavan itself, as there was no communication from the government till evening about the conduct of any ceremonial parade at Secunderabad Parade Grounds.
“Since the high court left it to the discretion of the government to choose the place for the Republic Day celebrations, it might have left it to Raj Bhavan itself. Yet, no official from the General Administration Department visited Raj Bhavan till evening to make any arrangements,” the official said.
Secondly, there is no space at Raj Bhavan to conduct any ceremonial parade as directed by the high court and common people cannot enter the premises, the official said. “So, it will be a normal unfurling of tricolour at Raj Bhavan,” the official said.
Later, Tamilisai would be flying to Puducherry for the Republic Day parade. “She would be bearing her own travel expenses, instead of depending on the government to make travel arrangements,” the official said.
During the course of arguments, the petitioner’s counsel argued that the “Centre had issued a circular on Republic Day celebrations on January 19 but the state government was breaking the customs”.
Arguing on behalf of the state government, advocate general B S Prasad said because of Covid-19 restrictions, the government was not conducting the Republic Day celebrations in public at the Secunderabad parade grounds for the last two years.
“This year too, the government has communicated to the governor that due to Covid-19, the parade is not being held and the celebrations will be held at Raj Bhavan,” he said.
The judge, however, noted that the government had not submitted any order implementing the Covid-19 protocol. She rejected the advocate general’s argument and said that the parade must be held.
Chief secretary Shanti Kumari could not be reached for the comments on the high court judgement.