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Karunanidhi Will be First Former Tamil Nadu CM to be Buried at Marina

The mausoleum complex at the beach is where the Dravidian icon’s mentor CN Annadurai, friend-turned-foe MG Ramachandran and rival J Jayalalithaa have been laid to rest.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:August 8, 2018, 1:44 PM IST
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Karunanidhi Will be First Former Tamil Nadu CM to be Buried at Marina
DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi’s body lies in state at Chennai’s Rajaji Hall.
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New Delhi: DMK patriarch M Karunanidhi will be buried at Chennai’s Marina Beach alongside mentor and party founder CN Annadurai, the Madras High Court ruled on Wednesday in a symbolic win for the Dravidian leader’s family and party over ruling rival AIADMK.

The E Palaniswami government had denied permission for the Kalaignar, or artist as Karunanidhi was known, to be buried at the iconic mausoleum complex in Marina, saying he wasn’t a sitting CM unlike Annadurai, MG Ramachandran and Jayalalithaa who were laid to rest there.

When the hearing resumed in the morning before a bench led by acting Chief Justice and comprising Justices Huluvadi G Ramesh and SS Sundar, government’s senior counsel CS Vaidyanathan said “former Chief Ministers cannot be treated as an equal to current Chief Ministers” while allocating land for burial.

In its counter affidavit to the DMK plea, the government argued that former chief ministers have always been buried at Gandhi Mandapam whereas only sitting chief ministers were given a place in Marina beach.

To this, Justice Sundar said, “Former CM is not included in central government protocol, so nobody is going to question you if you allow Karunanidhi’s body to be buried at Marina.”

When the judges questioned why this classification was not mentioned in the press release, Vaidyanathan maintained that, “Classification between former CMs and sitting CMs is a valid one,” and added that a “press release was not a government order and hence cannot be challenged.”

The government also argued that since former chief ministers were given a space in Gandhi Mandapam, the “protocol with regard to funeral rites of high dignitaries has always treated incumbent office holders and former office holders differently.”

“The government has passed a detailed order containing all reasons for denying place at Marina for Karunanidhi. That has not been challenged by the DMK. Application of mind has to be tested on the basis of circumstances that prevailed on the day when the decision was taken by the government. It was a fair application of mind yesterday,” said Vaidyanathan.

However, P Wilson, who appeared for the DMK, said Karunanidhi should be accorded burial at Marina since he was a leader of the Dravidian movement. “Kamarajar and Gandhi Mandapam are in Adyar and not in Marina because ideologies of those leaders were different from leaders of Dravidian movement.”

Wilson also contended that not only did Vaidyanathan rake up “flimsy and legally untenable” reasons, but not allowing the burial at Marina would be tantamount to violation of Article 21.

“Article 21 certainly comes in to play if he is not given a decent burial after he had been the CM for five times. Burying Karunanidhi next to Gandhi Mandapam cannot be termed as a decent burial. Under Section 319 of Chennai Corporation Act, the civic body had already given approval for burying bodies and constructing mausoleums,” argued Wilson.

When Vaidyanathan argued that even the tallest leader of Dravidian movement, Periyar EV Ramasamy, was not given a burial in Marina, Wilson argued that currently “there was no prohibition under central government protocol to allot Marina for former chief ministers. Now, all legal impediments have gone since your lordships have dismissed all cases filed last year against Jayalalithaa’s mausoleum in Marina,” argued Wilson.

Wilson also urged that a Marina burial for the Kalaignar was the popular wish, denying which might create a law and order situation.

To this Vaidyanathan argued that even DMK leader Karunanidhi did not allow wife of MG Ramachandran, Janaki Ramachandran, to be buried at Marina citing protocol. “DMK is now asking us not to follow principles laid down by Karunanidhi when he was the CM. Would it not amount to dishonoring his memory?” asked Vaidyanathan.

The court, however, settled the matter in DMK’s favour, leading to emotional cheers in the DMK camp and among Karunanidhi’s children MK Stalin and Kanimozhi at Rajaji Hall.

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| Edited by: Nitya Thirumalai
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